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i 't': iii Mil 1 1 


II (flii 








By Rudyard Kipling 


Copyright, 1899, by 

Copyright by 

Printed in the United States of America 

FR , 


^'The Finest Story in the World" . 


With the Main Guard 


Wee Willie Winkie . 

. 73 

The Rout of the White Hussars 


At Twenty -two . 


The Courting of Dinah Shadd 


The Story of Muhammad Din 


In Flood Time . 


My Own True Ghost Story 


The Big Drunk Draf 


By Word of Mouth . 


The Drums of the Fore and Aft 



The Sending of Dana Da . 


On the City Wall . 


The Broken-link Handicap . 


On Greenhow Hill 


Indian Tales 

To Be Filed for Reference 

The Man Who Would Be King . 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows . 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 

His Majesty the King 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 

In the House of Suddhoo . 

Black Jack 

The Taking of Lungtungpen 

The Phantom Rickshaw 

On the Strength of a Likeness 

Private Learoyd's Story . 

Wressley of the Foreign Office 

The Solid Muldoon 

The Three Musketeers 

Beyond the Pale 

The God from the Machine 

The Daughter of the Regiment 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 









*• Or ever the knightly years were gone 
With the old world to the grave, 
I was a king in Babylon 

And you were a Christian slave." 
— IF. E. Henley. 

HIS name was Charlie Mears; he was the only 
son of his mother who was a widow, and 
he lived in the north of London, coming into the 
City every day to work in a bank. He was 
twenty years old and suffered from aspirations. 
I met him in a pubUc billiard-saloon where the 
marker called him by his given name, and he 
called the marker " Bullseyes." Charlie ex- 
plained, a little nervously, that he had only come 
to the place to look on, and since looking on at 
games of skill is not a cheap amusement for the 
young, I suggested that Charlie should go back 
to his mother. 

That was our first step toward better acquaint- 
ance. He would call on me sometimes in the 
evenings instead of running" about London with 
his fellow-clerks; and before long, speaking of 
himself as a young man must, he told me of his 

2 Indian Tales 

aspirations, wiiich were all literary. He desired 
to make himself an undying name chiefly through 
verse, though he was not above sending stories 
of love and death to the drop-a-penny-in-the- 
slot journals. It was my fate to sit still while 
Charlie read me poems of many hundred lines, 
and bulky fragments of plays that would surely 
shake the world. My reward was his unreserved 
confidence, and the self-revelations and troubles 
of a young man are almost as holy as those of a 
maiden. Charlie had never fallen in love, but 
was anxious to do so on the first opportunity; he 
believed in all things good and all things honor- 
able, but, at the same time, was curiously careful 
to let me see that he knew his way about the 
world as befitted a bank clerk on twenty-five 
shillings a week. He rhymed "dove" with 
" love " and " moon " with " June," and devoutly 
believed that they had never so been rhymed be- 
fore. The long lame gaps in his plays he filled 
up with hasty words of apology and description 
and swept on, seeing all that he intended to do 
so clearly that he esteemed it already done, and 
turned to me for applause. 

I fancy that his mother did not encourage his 
aspirations, and I know that his writing-table at 
home was the edge of his washstand. This he 
told me almost at the outset of our acquaintance; 
when he was ravaging my bookshelves, and a 

**The Finest Story in the World" 3 

little before I was implored to speak the truth as 
to his chances of "writing something really 
great, you know." Maybe I encouraged him 
too much, for, one night, he called on me, his 
eyes tlaming with excitement, and said breath- 

"Do you mind — can you let me stay here and 
write all this evening? I won't interrupt you, I 
won't really. There's no place for me to write 
in at my mother's." 

"What's the trouble.^" I said, knowing well 
what that trouble was. 

" I've a notion in my head that would make 
the most splendid story that was ever written. 
Do let me write it out here. It's such a notion! " 

There was no resisting the appeal. I set him 
a table; he hardly thanked me, but plunged into 
the work at once. For half an hour the pen 
scratched without stopping. Then Charlie sighed 
and tugged his hair. The scratching grew 
slower, there were more erasures, and at last 
ceased. The finest story in the world would not 
come forth. 

" It looks such awful rot now," he said, mourn- 
fully. " And yet it seemed so good when I was 
thinking about it. Whafs wrong } " 

1 could not dishearten him by saying the truth. 
So I answered: "Perhaps you don't feel in the 
mood for writing." 

4 Indian Tales 

"Yes I do — except when I look at this stuff. 
Ugh ! " 

" Read me what you've done," I said. 

"He read, and it was wondrous bad, and he 
paused at all the specially turgid sentences, ex- 
pecting a little approval; for he was proud of 
those sentences, as 1 knew he would be. 

"It needs compression," 1 suggested, cau- 

"1 hate cutting my things down. I don't 
think you could alter a word here without spoil- 
ing the sense. It reads better aloud than when I 
was writing it." 

"Charlie, you're suffering from an alarming 
disease afflicting a numerous class. Put the 
thing by, and tackle it again in a week." 

"I want to do it at once. What do you think 
of it.?" 

"How can I judge from a half-written tale? 
Tell me the story as it lies in your head." 

Charlie told, and in the telling there was every- 
thing that his ignorance had so carefully pre- 
vented from escaping into the written word. I 
looked at him, and wondering whether it were 
possible that he did not know the originality, the 
power of the notion that had come in his way } 
It was distinctly a Notion among notions. Men 
had been puffed up with pride by notions not a 
tithe as excellent and practicable. But Charlie 

*^The Finest Story in the World" 5 

babbled on serenely, interrupting the current of 
pure fancy with samples of horrible sentences 
that he purposed to use. I heard him out to the 
end. It would be folly to allow his idea to re- 
main in his own inept hands, when I could do so 
much with it. Not all that could be done in- 
deed; but, oh so much! 

"What do you think?" he said, at last. ".I 
fancy I shall call it ' The Story of a Ship.' " 

"I think the idea's pretty good; but you won't 
be able to handle it for ever so long. Now I "— 

" Would it be of any use to you } Would you 
care to take it ? I should be proud," said Charlie, 

There are few things sweeter in this world 
than the guileless, hot-headed, intemperate, open 
admiration of a junior. Even a woman in her 
blindest devotion does not fall into the gait of the 
man she adores, tilt her bonnet to the angle at 
which he wears his hat, or interlard her speech 
with his pet oaths. And Charlie did all these 
things. Still it was necessary to salve my con- 
science before I possessed myself of Charlie's 

" Let's make a bargain. I'll give you a fiver 
for the notion," I said. 

Charlie became a bank-clerk at once. 

"Oh, that's impossible. Between two pals, 
you know, if I may call you so, and speaking as 

6 Indian Tales 

a man of the world, I couldn't. Take the notion 
if it's any use to you. I've heaps more." 

He had — none knew this better than I — but 
they were the notions of other men. 

'* Look at it as a matter of business — between 
men of the world," 1 returned. "Five pounds 
will buy you any number of poetry-books. Busi- 
ness is business, and you may be sure I shouldn't 
give that price unless " — 

"Oh, if you put it that way," said Charlie, 
visibly moved by the thought of the books. The 
bargain was clinched with an agreement that he 
should at unstated intervals come to me with all 
the notions that he possessed, should have a table 
of his own to write at, and unquestioned right to 
inflict upon me all his poems and fragments of 
poems. Then 1 said, "Now tell me how you 
came by this idea." 

"It came by itself." Charlie's eyes opened a 

"Yes, but you told me a great deal about the 
hero that you must have read before somewhere." 

"I haven't any time for reading, except when 
you let me sit here, and on Sundays I'm on my 
bicycle or down the river all day. There's noth- 
ing wrong about the hero, is there ? " 

"Tell me again and I shall understand clearly. 
You say that your hero went pirating. How did 
he live ? " 

"The Finest Story in the World '^ 7 

" He was on the lower deck of this ship-thing 
that I was telling you about." 

"What sort of ship?" 

"It was the kind rowed with oars, and the sea 
spurts through the oar-holes and the men row 
sitting up to their knees in water. Then there's 
a bench running down between the two lines of 
oars and an overseer with a whip walks up and 
down the bench to make the men work." 

" How do you know that ? " 

" It's in the tale. There's a rope running over- 
head, looped to the upper deck, for the overseer 
to catch hold of when the ship rolls. When the 
overseer misses the rope once and falls among 
the rowers, remember the hero laughs at him and 
gets licked for it. He's chained to his oar of 
course — the hero." 

" How is he chained ? " 

" With an iron band round his waist fixed to 
the bench he sits on, and a sort of handcuff on 
his left wrist chaining him to the oar. He's on 
the lower deck where the worst men are sent, 
and the only light comes from the hatchways 
and through the oar-holes. Can't you imagine 
the sunlight just squeezing through between the 
handle and the hole and wobbling about as the 
ship moves ?" 

" I can, but I can't imagine your imagining it." 

" How could it be any other way.? Now you 

8 India n Tales 

listen to me. The long oars on the upper deck 
are managed by four men to each bench, the 
lower ones by three, and the lowest of all by 
two. Remember it's quite dark on the lowest 
deck and all the men there go mad. When a 
man dies at his oar on that deck he isn't thrown 
overboard, but cut up in his chains and stuffed 
through the oar-hole in little pieces." 

"Why?" I demanded, amazed, not so much at 
the information as the tone of command in which 
it was flung out. 

"To save trouble and to frighten the others. 
It needs two overseers to drag a man's body up 
to the top deck; and if the men at the lower 
deck oars were left alone, of course they'd stop 
rowing and try to pull up the benches by all 
standing up together in their chains." 

" You've a most provident imagination. Where 
have you been reading about galleys and galley- 
slaves ? " 

"Nowhere that I remember. I row a little 
when I get the chance. But, perhaps, if you say 
so, I may have read something." 

He went away shortly afterward to deal with 
booksellers, and I wondered how a bank clerk 
aged twenty could put into my hands with a 
profligate abundance of detail, all given with ab- 
solute assurance, the story of extravagant and 
bloodthirsty adventure, riot, piracy, and death 

"The Finest Story in the World'' g 

in unnamed seas. He had led his hero a des- 
perate dance through revolt against the over- 
seers, to command of a ship of his own, and ulti- 
mate establishment of a kingdom on an island 
"somewhere in the sea, you know "; and, de- 
lighted with m.y paltry five pounds, had gone out 
to buy the notions of other men, that these might 
teach him how to write. 1 had the consolation 
of knowing that this notion was mine by right 
of purchase, and 1 thought that 1 could make 
something of it. 

When next he came to me he was drunk — 
royally drunk on many poets for the first time 
revealed to him. His pupils were dilated, his 
words tumbled over each other, and he wrapped 
himself in quotations. Most of all was he drunk 
with Longfellow. 

" Isn't it splendid ? Isn't it superb ? " he cried, 
after hasty greetings. " Listen to this — 

" « Wouldst thou,' — so the hehiisman answered, 
' Know the secret of the sea ? 
Only those who brave its dangers 
Comprehend its mystery.' 

By gum ! 

" ' Only those who brave its dangers 
Comprehend its mystery,' " 

he repeated twenty times, walking up and down 
the room and forgetting me. " But / can under- 

lo Indian Ta les 

stand it too," he said to himself. " I don't know 
how to thank you for that fiver. And this; 
listen — 

•' ' I remember the black wharves and the ships 
And the sea-tides tossing free, 
And the Spanish sailors with bearded lips, 
And the beauty and mystery of the ships, 
And the magic of the sea.* 

I haven't braved any dangers, but I feel as if I 
knew all about it." 

" You certainly seem to have a grip of the sea. 
Have you ever seen it?" 

"When I was a little chap I went to Brighton 
once; we used to live in Coventry, though, be- 
fore we came to London. I never saw it, 

'• ' When descends on the Atlantic 
The gigantic 
Storm-wind of the Equinox.' " 

He shook me by the shoulder to make me un- 
derstand the passion that was shaking himself. 

"When that storm comes," he continued, "I 
think that all the oars in the ship that I was talk- 
ing about get broken, and the rowers have their 
chests smashed in by the bucking oar-heads. By 
the way, have you done anything with that 
notion of mine yet .?" 

"No. I was waiting to hear more of it from 
you. Tell me how in the world you're so certain 

''The Finest Story in the World'' il 

about the fittings of the ship. You know noth- 
ing of ships." 

"I don't know. It's as real as anything to 
me until I try to write it down. I was thinking 
about it only last night in bed, after you had 
loaned me ' Treasure Island ' ; and I made up a 
whole lot of new things to go into the story." 

"What sort of things ? " 

"About the food the men ate; rotten figs and 
black beans and wine in a skin bag, passed from 
bench to bench." 

" Was the ship built so long ago as that?" 

" As what ? I don't know whether it was long 
ago or not. It's only a notion, but sometimes it 
seems just as real as if it was true. Do 1 bother 
you with talking about it ? " 

"Not in the least. Did you make up anything 

"Yes, but it's nonsense." Charlie flushed a 

"Never mind; let's hear about it." 

"Well, I was thinking over the story, and 
after awhile I got out of bed and wrote down on 
a piece of paper the sort of stuff the men might 
be supposed to scratch on their oars with the 
edges of their handcuffs. It seemed to make 
the thing more lifelike. It is so real to me, 

" Have you the paper on you ? " 

12 Indian Tales 

'•'Ye-es, but what's the use of showing it? 
It's only a lot of scratches. All the same, we 
might have 'em reproduced in the book on the 
front page." 

"I'll attend to those details. Show me what 
your men wrote." 

He pulled out of his pocket a sheet of note- 
paper, with a single line of scratches upon it, 
and I put this carefully away. 

"What is it supposed to mean in English.?" I 

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps it means 'I'm 
beastly tired.' It's great nonsense," he repeated, 
"but all those men in the ship seem as real as 
people to me. Do do something to the no- 
tion soon; I should like to see it written and 

"But all you've told me would make a long 

" Make it then. You've only to sit down and 
write it out." 

"Give me a little time. Have you any more 

" Not just now. I'm reading all the books I've 
bought. They're splendid." 

When he had left I looked at the sheet of note- 
paper with the inscription upon it. Then I took 
my head tenderly between both hands, to make 
certain that it was not coming off or turning 

**T}2e Finest Story in the World" 13 

round. Then . . . but there seemed to be 
no interval between quitting my rooms and find- 
ing myself arguing with a policeman outside a 
door marked Private in a corridor of the British 
Museum. All I demanded, as politely as possi- 
ble, was "the Greek antiquity man." The police- 
man knew nothing except the rules of the 
Museum, and it became necessary to forage 
through all the houses and offices inside the 
gates. An elderly gentleman called away from 
his lunch put an end to my search by holding the 
note-paper between finger and thumb and sniff- 
ing at it scornfully. 

"What does this mean? H'mm," said he. 
"So far as I can ascertain it is an attempt to 
write extremely corrupt Greek on the part " — 
here he glared at me with intention — "of an ex- 
tremely illiterate — ah — person." He read slowly 
from the paper, "Pollock, Erckmann, Taiiclniiti, 
Henniher" — four names familiar to me. 

"Can you tell me what the corruption is sup- 
posed to mean — the gist of the thing .^" I asked. 

"I have been — many times — overcome with 
weariness in this particular employment. That 
is the meaning." He returned me the paper, and 
I fied without a word of thanks, explanation, or 

J might have been excused for forgetting much. 
To me of all men had been given the chance to 

14 Indian Tales, 

write the most marvelous tale in the world, 
nothing less than the story of a Greek galley- 
slave, as told by himself. Small wonder that his 
dreaming had seemed real to Charlie. The Fates 
that are so careful to shut the doors of each suc- 
cessive life behind us had, in this case, been 
neglectful, and Charlie was looking, though that 
he did not know, where never man had been 
permitted to look with full knowledge since Time 
began. Above all, he was absolutely ignorant 
of the knowledge sold to me for five pounds; 
and he would retain that ignorance, for bank- 
clerks do not understand metempsychosis, and a 
sound commercial education does not include 
Greek. He would supply me — here I capered 
among the dumb gods of Egypt and laughed in 
their battered faces — with material to make my 
tale sure — so sure that the world would hail it as 
an impudent and vamped fiction. And 1 — I 
alone would know that it was absolutely and 
literally true. I, — I alone held this jewel to my 
hand for the cutting and polishing. Therefore I 
danced again among the gods till a policeman 
saw me and took steps in my direction. 

It remained now only to encourage Charlie to 
talk, and here there was no difficulty. But I had 
forgotten those accursed books of poetry. He 
came to me time after time, as useless as a sur- 
charged phonograph — drunk on Byron, Shelley, or 

"The Finest Story in the World" 15 

Keats. Knowing now what the boy had been in 
his past lives, and desperately anxious not to lose 
one word of his babble, I could not hide from him 
my respect and interest. He misconstrued both 
into respect for the present soul of Charlie Mears, 
to whom life was as new as it was to Adam, and 
interest in his readings; and stretched my pa- 
tience to breaking point by reciting poetry — not 
his own now, but that of others. I wished every 
English poet blotted out of the memory of man- 
kind. I blasphemed the mightiest names of song 
because they had drawn Charlie from the path of 
direct narrative, and would, later, spur him to 
imitate them; but I choked down my impatience 
until the first flood of enthusiasm should have 
spent itself and the boy returned to his dreams. 

"What's the use of my telling you what / 
think, when these chaps wrote things for the 
angels to read.?" he growled, one evening. 
"Why don't you write something like theirs ?" 

" I don't think you're treating me quite fairly," 
I said, speaking under strong restraint. 

"I've given you the story," he said, shortly, 
replunging into "Lara." 

"But 1 want the details." 

"The things I make up about that damned 
ship that you cal! a galley ? They're quite easy. 
You can just make 'em up yourself. Turn up 
the gas a little, I want to go on reading." 

i6 Indian Tales 

I could have broken the gas globe over his 
head for his amazing stupidity. I could indeed 
make up things for myself did I only know what 
Charlie did not know that he knew. But since 
the doors were shut behind me 1 could only wait 
his youthful pleasure and strive to keep him in 
good temper. One minute's want of guard 
might spoil a priceless revelation: now and again 
he would toss his books aside — he kept them in 
my rooms, for his mother would have been 
shocked at the waste of good money had she 
seen them — and launched into his sea dreams. 
Again I cursed all the poets of England. The 
plastic mind of the bank-clerk had been overlaid, 
colored and distorted by that which he had read, 
and the result as delivered was a confused tangle 
of other voices most like the muttered song 
through a City telephone in the busiest part of 
the day. 

He talked of the galley — his own galley had he 
but known it — with illustrations borrowed from 
the "Bride of Abydos." He pointed the ex- 
periences of his hero with quotations from 
"The Corsair," and threw in deep and desperate 
moral reflections from "Cain "and "Manfred," 
expecting me to use them all. Only when the 
talk turned on Longfellow were the jarring 
cross-currents dumb, and I knew that Charlie 
was speaking the truth as he remembered it- 

"The Finest Story in the World" ij 

" What do you think of this ? " I said one even- 
ing, as soon as 1 understood the medium in which 
his memory worked best, and, before he could 
expostulate, read him the whole of "The Saga 
of KingOlaf!" 

He listened open-mouthed, flushed, his hands 
drumming on the back of the sofa where he lay, 
till I came to the Song of Einar Tamberskelver 
and the verse: 

" Einar then, the arrow taking 
From the loosened string, 
Answered : ' That was Norway breaking 
'Neath thy hand, O King.' " 

He gasped with pure delight of sound. 

"That's better than Byron, a little," 1 ventured. 

"Better? Why it's true/ How could he 
have known ?" 

J went back and repeated: 

" « What was that ? ' said Olaf, standing 
On the quarter-deck, 
♦Something heard I like the stranding 
Of a shattered wreck ? ' " 

" How could he have known how the ships 
crash and the oars rip out and go l-^p all along 
the line? Why only the other night. . . . 
But go back please and read * The Skerry of 
Shrieks ' again." 

1 8 Indian Tales 

" No, I'm tired. Let's talk. What happened 
the other night ? " 

"I had an awful nightmare about that galley 
of ours. I dreamed I was drowned in a fight. 
You see we ran alongside another ship in harbor. 
The water was dead still except where our oars 
whipped it up. You know where I always sit 
in the galley?" He spoke haltingly at first, un- 
der a fine English fear of being laughed at. 

"No. That's news to me," I answered, 
meekly, my heart beginning to beat. 

" On the fourth oar from the bow on the right 
side on the upper deck. There were four of us 
at that oar, all chained. 1 remember watching 
the water and trying to get my handcuffs off be- 
fore the row began. Then we closed up on the 
other ship, and all their fighting men jumped over 
our bulwarks, and my bench broke and I was 
pinned down with the three other fellows on top 
of me, and the big oar jammed across our backs." 

" Well ? " Charlie's eyes were alive and alight. 
He was looking at the wall behind my chair. 

"I don't know how we fought. The men 
were trampling all over my back, and I lay low. 
Then our rov/^ers on the left side — tied to their 
oars, you know — began to yell and back water. 
I could hear the v/ater sizzle, and we spun round 
like a cockchafer and I knew, lying where I was. 
that there was a galley coming up bow-on, lo 

*'The Finest Story in the World" 19 

ram us on the left side. I could just lift up my 
head and see her sail over the bulwarks. We 
wanted to meet her bow to bow, but it was too 
late. We could only turn a little bit because the 
galley on our right had hooked herself on to us 
and stopped our moving. Then, by gum! there 
was a crash ! Our left oars began to break as the 
other galley, ihe moving one y'know, stuck her 
nose into them. Then the lower-deck oars shot 
up through the deck planking, butt first, and one 
of them jumped clean up into the air and came 
down again close to my head." 

" How was that managed } " 

"The moving galley's bow was plunking them 
back through their own oar-holes, and 1 could 
hear the devil of a shindy in the decks below. 
Then her nose caught us nearly in the middle, 
and we tilted sideways, and the fellows in the 
right-hand galley unhitched their hooks and 
ropes, and threv/ things on to our upper deck — 
arrows, and hot pitch or something that stung, 
and we went up and up and up on the left side, 
and the right side dipped, and I twisted my head 
round and saw the water stand still as it topped 
the right bulwarks, and then it curled over and 
crashed down on the whole lot of us on the right 
side, and I felt it hit my back, and I woke." 

"One minute, Charlie. When the sea topped 
the bulwarks, what did it look like ?" I had my 

20 Indian Tales 

reasons for asking. A man of my acquaintance 
had once gone down witii a leaking ship in a still 
sea, and had seen the water-level pause for an 
instant ere it fell on the deck. 

" It looked just like a banjo-string drawn tight, 
and it seemed to stay there for years," said 

Exactly! The other man had said: " It looked 
like a silver wire laid down along the bulwarks, 
and I thought it was never going to break." He 
had paid everything except the bare life for this 
little valueless piece of knowledge, and I had 
traveled ten thousand weary miles to meet him 
and take his knowledge at second hand. But 
Charlie, the bank-clerk on twenty-five shillings a 
week, he who had never been out of sight of a 
London omnibus, knew it all. It was no conso- 
lation to me that once in his lives he had been 
forced to die for his gains. I also must have died 
scores of times, but behind me, because I could 
have used my knowledge, the doors were shut. 

"And then.?" I said, trying to put away the 
devil of envy. 

"The funny thing was, though, in all the mess 
I didn't feel a bit astonished or frightened. It 
seemed as if I'd been in a good many fights, be- 
cause I told my next man so when the row be- 
gan. But that cad of an overseer on my deck 
wouldn't unloose our chains and give us a chance. 

''The Finest Story in the World''' 21 

He always said that we'd all be set free after a 
battle, but we never were; we never were." 
Charlie shook his head mournfully. 

" What a scoundrel! " 

" I should say he was. He never gave us 
enough to eat, and sometimes we were so thirsty 
that we used to drink salt-water. I can taste 
that salt-water still." 

"Now tell me something about the harbor 
where the fight was fought." 

"I didn't dream about that. I know it was a 
harbor, though; because we were tied up to a 
ring on a white wall and all the face of the stone 
under water was covered with wood to prevent 
our ram getting chipped when the tide made us 

"That's curious. Our hero commanded the 
galley, didn't he ? " 

"Didn't he just! He stood by the bovv^s and 
shouted like a good 'un. He was the man who 
killed the overseer." 

" But you were all drowned together, Charlie, 
weren't you .^'' 

"I can't make that fit quite," he said, with a 
puzzled look. "The galley must have gone 
down with all hands, and yet I fancy that the 
hero went on living afterward. Perhaps he 
climbed into the attacking ship. I wouldn't see 
that, of course. I was dead, you know." 

22 Indian Tales 

He shivered slightly and protested that he 
could remember no more. 

1 did not press him further, but to satisfy my- 
self that he lay in ignorance of the workings of 
his own mind, deliberately introduced him to 
Mortimer Collins's " Transmigration," and gave 
him a sketch of the plot before he opened the 

"What rot it all is!" he said, frankly, at the 
end of an hour. "I don't understand his non- 
sense about the Red Planet Mars and the King, 
and the rest of it. Chuck me the Longfellow 

I handed him the book and wrote out as much 
as I could remember of his description of the sea- 
fight, appealing to him from time to time for 
confirmation of fact or detail. He would answer 
without raising his eyes from the book, as assur- 
edly as though all his knowledge lay before him 
on the printed page. 1 spoke under the normal 
key of my voice that the current might not be 
broken, and I know that he was not aware of 
what he was saying, for his thoughts were out 
on the sea with Longfellow. 

"Charlie," I asked, "when the rowers on the 
gallies mutinied how did they kill their over- 
seers ?" 

" Tore up the benches and brained 'em. That 
happened when a heavy sea was running. An 

"The Finest Story in the World" 23 

overseer on the lower deck slipped from the 
centre plank and fell among the rowers. They 
choked him to death against the side of the ship 
with their chained hands quite quietly, and it 
was too dark for the other overseer to see what 
had happened. When he asked, he was pulled 
down too and choked, and the lower deck fought 
their way up deck by deck, with the pieces of 
the broken benches banging behind 'em. How 
they howled!" 

"And what happened after that?" 

"I don't know. The hero went av/ay — red 
hair and red beard and all. That was after he 
had captured our galley, I think." 

The sound of my voice irritated him, and he 
motioned slightly with his left hand as a man 
does when interruption jars. 

"You never told me he was red-headed be- 
fore, or that he captured your galley," I said, 
after a discreet interval. 

Charlie did not raise his eyes. 

"He was as red as a red bear," said he, ab- 
stractedly. " He came from the north; they said 
so in the galley when he looked for rowers — not 
slaves, but free men. Afterward — years and 
years afterward — news came from another ship, 
or else he came back " — 

His lips moved in silence. He was rapturously 
retasting some poem before him. 

24 Indian Tales 

"Where had he been, then?" I was almost 
whispering that the sentence might come gentle 
to whichever section of Charlie's brain was 
working on my behalf. 

"To the Beaches — the Long and Wonderful 
Beaches ! " was the reply, after a minute of silence. 

"To Furdurstrandi.^" 1 asked, tingling from 
head to foot. 

"Yes, to Furdurstrandi," he pronounced the 
word in a new fashion. "And 1 too saw " — 
The voice failed. 

"Do you know what you have said.?" I 
shouted, incautiously. 

He lifted his eyes, fully roused now. "No! " 
he snapped. "1 wish you'd let a chap goon 
reading. Hark to this: 

«' ' But Othere, the old sea captain, 
He neither paused nor stirred 
Till the king listened, and then 
Once more took up his pen 
And wrote down every word. 

" ' And to the King of the Saxons 
In witness of the truth, 
Raising his noble head, 
He stretched his brown hand and said, 
" Behold this walrus tooth." ' 

By Jove, what chaps those must have been, to 
go sailing all over the shop never knowing where 
they'd fetch the land ! Hah ! " 

■'The Finest Story in the World" 25 

"Charlie," I pleaded, "if you'll only be sensi- 
ble for a minute or two I'll make our hero in our 
tale every inch as good as Othere." 

"Umph! Longfellow wrote that poem. I 
don't care about writing things any more, I 
want to read." He was thoroughly out of tune 
now, and raging over my own ill-luck, 1 left him. 

Conceive yourself at the door of the world's 
treasure-house guarded by a child — an idle irre- 
sponsible child playing knuckle-bones — on whose 
favor depends the gift of the key, and you will 
imagine one half my torment. Till that evening 
Charlie had spoken nothing that might not lie 
within the experiences of a Greek galley-slave. 
But now, or there was no virtue in books, he 
had talked of some desperate adventure of the 
■Vikings, of Thorfin Karlsefne's sailing to Wine- 
land, which is America, in the ninth or tenth 
century. The battle in the harbor he had seen; 
and his own death he had described. But this 
was a much more startling plunge into the past. 
Was it possible that he had skipped half a dozen 
lives and was then dimly remembering some 
episode of a thousand years later ? It was a 
maddening jumble, and the worst of it was that 
Charlie Mears in his normal condition was the 
last person in the world to clear it up. I could 
only wait and watch, but I went to bed that 
night full of the wildest imaginings. There was 

26 Indian Tales 

nothing that was not possible if Charlie's detest- 
able memory only held good. 

I might rewrite the Saga of Thorfln Karlsefne 
as it had never been written before, might tell 
the story of the first discovery of America, my- 
self the discoverer. But I was entirely at Charlie's 
mercy, and so long as there was a three-and-six- 
penny Bohn volume within his reach Charlie 
would not tell. 1 dared not curse him openly; I 
hardly dared jog his memory, for 1 was dealing 
with the experiences of a thousand years ago, 
told through the mouth of a boy of to-day ; and 
a boy of to-day is affected by every change of 
tone and gust of opinion, so that he lies even 
when he desires to speak the truth. 

I saw no more of him for nearly a week. 
When next I met him it was in Gracechurch 
Street with a billbook chained to his waist. Busi- 
ness took him over London Bridge and I accom- 
panied him. He was very full of the impor- 
tance of that book and magnified it. As we 
passed over the Thames we paused to look at 
a steamer unloading great slabs of white and 
brown marble. A barge drifted under the 
steamer's stern and a lonely cow in that barge 
bellowed. Charlie's face changed from the face 
of the bank-clerk to that of an unknown and — 
though he would not have believed this — a much 
shrewder man. He flung out his arm across the 

*^The Finest Story in the World" 27 

parapet of the bridge and laughing very loudly, 

" When they heard our bulls bellow the SkrcEl- 
ings ran away! " 

1 waited only for an instant, but the barge and 
the cow had disappeared under the bows of the 
steamer before I answered. 

"Charlie, what do you suppose are Skroel- 

"Never heard of 'em before. They sound like 
a new kind of seagull. What a chap you are for 
asking questions! " he replied. "1 have to go to 
the cashier of the Omnibus Company yonder. 
Will you wait for me and we can lunch some- 
where together? I've a notion for a poem." 

" No, thanks. I'm off. You're sure you know 
nothing about Skroelings ?" 

"Not unless he's been entered for the Liver- 
pool Handicap." He nodded and disappeared in 
the crowd. 

Now it is written in the Saga of Eric the Red 
or that of Thorfin Karlsefne, that nine hundred 
years ago when Karlsefne's galleys came to Leif s 
booths, which Leif had erected in the unknown 
land called Markland, which may or may not have 
been Rhode Island, the Skroelings — and the Lord 
He knows who these may or may not have been 
— came to trade with the Vikings, and ran away 
because they were frightened at the bellowing of 

28 Indian Tales 

the cattle which Thorfin had brought with him 
in the ships. But what in the world could a 
Greek slave know of that affair ? I wandered up 
and down among the streets trying to unravel the 
mystery, and the more I considered it, the more 
baffling it grew. One thing only seemed certain, 
and that certainty took away my breath for the 
moment. If I came to full knowledge of anything 
at all, it would not be one life of the soul in 
Charlie Mears's body, but half a dozen — half a 
dozen several and separate existences spent on 
blue water in the morning of the world! 

Then I walked round the situation. 

Obviously if I used my knowledge I should 
stand alone and unapproachable until all men 
were as wise as myself. That would be some- 
thing, but manlike I was ungrateful. It seemed 
bitterly unfair that Charlie's memory should fail 
me when 1 needed it most. Great Powers above 
— I looked up at them through the fog smoke — 
did the Lords of Life and Death know what this 
meant to me } Nothing less than eternal fame of 
the best kind, that comes from One, and is shared 
by one alone. I would be content — remember- 
ing Clive, I stood astounded at my own modera- 
tion, — with the mere right to tell one story, to 
work out one little contribution to the light litera- 
ture of the day. If Charlie were permitted full 
recollection for one hour — for sixty short minutes 

"The Finest Story in the World" 29 

— of existences that had extended over a thousand 
years — I would forego all profit and honor from 
all that I should make of his speech. I would 
take no share in the commotion that would fol- 
low throughout the particular corner of the earth 
that calls itself "the world." The thing should 
be put forth anonymously. Nay, I would make 
other men believe that they had written it. They 
would hire bull-hided self-advertising Englishmen 
to bellow it abroad. Preachers would found a 
fresh conduct of life upon it, swearing that it 
was new and that they had lifted the fear of death 
from all mankind. Every Orientalist in Europe 
would patronize it discursively with Sanskrit and 
Pali texts. Terrible women would invent un- 
clean variants of the men's belief for the elevation 
of their sisters. Churches and religions would 
war over it. Between the hailing and re-starting 
of an omnibus I foresaw the scuffles that would 
arise among half a dozen denominations all pro- 
fessing "the doctrine of the True Metempsycho- 
sis as applied to the world and the New Era"; 
and saw, too, the respectable English newspapers 
shying, like frightened kine, over the beautiful 
simplicity of the tale. The mind leaped forward 
a hundred — two hundred — a thousand years. I 
saw with sorrow that men would mutilate and 
garble the story ; that rival creeds would turn it 
upside down till, at last, the western world which 

30 Indian Tales 

clings to the dread of death more closely than the 
hope of life, would set it aside as an interesting 
superstition and stampede after some faith so 
long forgotten that it seemed altogether new. 
Upon this 1 changed the terms of the bargain that 
1 would make with the Lords of Life and Death. 
Only let me know, let me write, the story with 
sure knowledge that 1 wrote the truth, and I 
would burn the manuscript as a solemn sacrifice. 
Five minutes after the last line was written I 
would destroy it all. But 1 must be allowed to 
write it with absolute certainty. 

There was no answer. The flaming colors of 
an Aquarium poster caught my eye and I won- 
dered whether it would be wise or prudent to 
lure Charlie into the hands of the professional 
mesmerist, and whether, if he were under his 
power, he would speak of his past lives. If he 
did, and if people believed him . . . but 
Charlie would be frightened and flustered, or 
made conceited by the interviews. In either case 
he would begin to lie, through fear or vanity. 
He was safest in my own hands. 

"They are very funny fools, your English," 
said a voice at my elbow, and turning round I 
recognized a casual acquaintance, a young Bengali 
law student, called Grish Chunder, whose father 
had sent him to England to become civilized. 
The old man was a retired native official, and on 

"The Finest Story in the World" 31 

an income of five pounds a month contrived to 
allow his son two hundred pounds a year, and 
the run of his teeth in a city where he could pre- 
tend to be the cadet of a royal house, and tell 
stories of the brutal Indian bureaucrats who 
ground the faces of the poor. 

Grish Chunder was a young, fat, full-bodied 
Bengali dressed with scrupulous care in frock 
coat, tall hat, light trousers and tan gloves. But 
I had known him in the days when the brutal 
Indian Government paid for his university educa- 
tion, and he contributed cheap sedition to Sachi 
Durpan, and intrigued with the wives of his 

"That is very funny and very foolish," he said, 
nodding at the poster. "I am going down to 
the Northbrook Club. Will you come too ?" 

I walked with him for some time. " You are 
not well," he said. "What is there in your 
mind } You do not talk." 

"Grish Chunder, you've been too well educa- 
ted to believe in a God, haven't you ?" 

"Oah, yes, here! But when I go home I 
must conciliate popular superstition, and make 
ceremonies of purification, and my women will 
anoint idols." 

"And hang up tiilsi and feast the purohif, and 
take you back into caste again and make a good 
khuttri of you again, you advanced social Free- 

32 Indian Tales 

thinker. And you'll eat desi food, and like it all, 
from the smell in the courtyard to the mustard oil 
over you." 

" I shall very much like it," said Grish Chunder, 
unguardedly. " Once a Hindu — always a Hindu. 
But I like to know what the English think they 

"I'll tell you something that one Englishman 
knows. It's an old tale to you." 

1 began to tell the story of Charlie in English, 
but Grish Chunder put a question in the vernacular, 
and the history went forward naturally in the 
tongue best suited for its telling. After all it could 
never have been told in English. Grish Chunder 
heard me, nodding from time to time, and then 
came up to my rooms where I finished the tale. 

" Beshak," he said, philosophically. " Lektn 
darwa^a band hai. (Without doubt, but the 
door is shut.) I have heard of this remembering 
of previous existences among my people. It is 
of course an old tale with us, but, to happen to 
an Englishman — a cow-fed Malechh — an outcast. 
By Jove, that is most peculiar!" 

"Outcast yourself, Grish Chunder! You eat 
cow-beef every day. Let's think the thing over. 
The boy remembers his incarnations." 

"Does he know that?" said Grish Chunder, 
quietly, swinging his legs as he sat on my table. 
He was speaking in English now. 

**The Finest Story in the World" 33 

" He does not know anything. Would I speak 
to you if he did ? Goon!" 

" There is no going on at all. If you tell that 
to your friends they will say you are mad and 
put it in the papers. Suppose, now, you pros- 
ecute for libel." 

"Let's leave that out of the question en- 
tirely. Is there any chance of his being made 
to speak }" 

"There is a chance. Oah, yess! But 7/ he 
spoke it would mean that all this world would 
end now — instaiito — fall down on your head. 
These things are not allowed, \ou know. As 1 
said, the door is shut." 

" Not a ghost of a chance ? " 

" How can there be } You are a Christi-an, 
and it is forbidden to eat, in your books, of the 
Tree of Life, or else you would never die. How 
shall you all fear death if you all know what your 
friend does not know that he knows ? I am 
afraid to be kicked, but I am not afraid to die, 
because I know what I know. You are not 
afraid to be kicked, but you are afraid to die. If 
you were not, by God! you English would be all 
over the shop in an hour, upsetting the balances 
of power, and making commotions. It would 
not be good. But no fear. He will remember a 
little and a little less, and he will call it dreams. 
Then he will forget altogether. When 1 passed 

34 Indian Tales 

my First Arts Examination in Calcutta that was 
all in the cram-book on Wordsworth. Trailing 
clouds of glory, you know." 

"This seems to be an exception to the rule." 

"There are no exceptions to rules. Some are 
not so hard-looking as others, but they are all the 
same when you touch. If this friend of yours said 
so-and-so and so-and-so, indicating that he re- 
membered all his lost lives, or one piece of a lost 
life, he would not be in the bank another hour. 
He would be what you called sack because he 
was mad, and they would send him to an asylum 
for lunatics. You can see that, my friend." 

"Of course I can, but I wasn't thinking of him. 
His name need never appear in the story." 

" Ah ! 1 see. That story will never be written. 
You can try." 

"I am going to." 

"For your own credit and for the sake of 
money, of course ? " 

" No. For the sake of writing the story. On 
my honor that will be all." 

"Even then there is no chance. You cannot 
play with the Gods. It is a very pretty story 
now. As they say, Let it go on that — I mean at 
that. Be quick; he will not last long." 

" How do you mean ?" 

"What I say. He has never, so far, thought 
about a woman." 

"The Finest Story in the World" 35 

"Hasn't he, though!" I remembered some of 
Charlie's confidences. 

" I mean no woman has thought about him. 
When that comes; bus — hogya — all up! I know. 
There are millions of women here. Housemaids, 
for instance." 

I winced at the thought of my story being 
ruined by a housemaid. And yet nothing was 
more probable. 

Grish Chunder grinned. 

" Yes — also pretty girls — cousins of his house, 
and perhaps not of his house. One kiss that he 
gives back again and remembers will cure all this 
nonsense, or else " — 

"Or else what } Remember he does not know 
that he knows." 

" I know that. Or else, if nothing happens he 
will become immersed in the trade and the finan- 
cial speculations like the rest. It must be so. 
You can see that it must be so. But the woman 
will come first, / think." 

There was a rap at the door, and Charlie 
charged in impetuously. He had been released 
from office, and by the look in his eyes I could 
see that he had come over for a long talk; most 
probably with poems in his pockets. Charlie's 
poems were very wearying, but sometimes they 
led him lo talk about the galley. 

Grish Chunder looked at him keenly for a minute. 

3^ Indian Tales 

"I beg your pardon," Charlie said, uneasily; 
"I didn't know you had any one with you." 

"I am going," said Grish Chunder. 

He drew me into the lobby as he departed. 

" That is your man," he said, quickly. "I tell 
you he will never speak all you wish. That is 
rot — bosh. But he would be most good to make 
to see things. Suppose now we pretend that it 
was only play " — I had never seen Grish Chunder 
so excited — '"and pour the ink-pool into his hand. 
Eh, what do you think ? I tell you that he could 
see anything that a man could see. Let me get 
the ink and tne camphor. He is a seer and he 
will tell us very many things." 

" He may be all you say, but I'm not going to 
trust him to your gods and devils." 

" It will not hurt him. He will only feel a 
little stupid and dull when he wakes up. You 
have seen boys look into the ink-pool before." 

"That is the reason why I am not going to see 
it any more. You'd better go, Grish Chunder." 

He went, declaring far down the staircase that 
it was throwing away my only chance of look- 
ing into the future. 

This left me unmoved, for I was concerned for 
the past, and no peering of hypnotized boys into 
mirrors and ink-pools would help me to that. 
But I recognized Grish Chunder's point of view 
and sympathized with it. 

*'The Finest Story in the World" 37 

"What a big black brute that was!" said 
Charlie, when I returned to him. "Well, look 
here, I've just done a poem; did it instead of 
playing dominoes after lunch. May I read it .?" 

" Let me read it to myself," 

"Then you miss the proper expression. Be- 
sides, you always make my things sound as if 
the rhymes were all wrong." 

"Read it aloud, then. You're like the rest of 

Charlie mouthed me his poem, and it was not 
much worse than the average of his verses. He 
had been reading his books faithfully, but he was 
not pleased when 1 told him that 1 preferred my 
Longfellow undiluted with Charlie. 

Then we began to go through the MS. line by 
line; Charlie parrying every objection and cor- 
rection with: 

" Yes, that may be better, but you don't catch 
what I'm driving at." 

Charles was, in one way at least, very like one 
kind of poet. 

There was a pencil scrawl at the back of the 
paper and " What's that .^" I said. 

"Oh that's not poetry at all. It's some rot I 
wrote last night before I went to bed and it was 
too much bother to hunt for rhymes; so I made 
it a sort of blank verse instead." 

Here is Charlie's "blank verse": 

38 Indian Tales 

" We pulled for you when the wind was against us and the 
sails were low. 

Will you never let us go ? 

We ate bread and onions when you took towns or ran aboard 
quickly when you were beaten back by the foe, 

The captains walked up and down the deck in fair weather 
singing songs, but we were below, 

We fainted with our chins on the oars and you did not see 
that we were idle for we still swung to and fro. 
Will you never let us go ? 

The salt made the oar handles like sharkskin ; our knees 
were cut to the bone with salt cracks ; our hair was stuck to 
our foreheads ; and our lips were cut to our gums and you 
whipped us because we could not row. 
Will you never let us go ? 

But in a little time we shall run out of the portholes as the 
water runs along the oarblade, and though you tell the others 
to row after us you will never catch us till you catch the oar- 
thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail. Aho ! 
Will you never let its go ? " 

"H'm. What's oar-thresh, Charlie?" 

"The water washed up by the oars. That's 
the sort of song they might sing in the galley, y* 
know. Aren't you ever going to finish that story 
and give me some of the profits ?" 

" It depends on yourself. If you had only told 
me more about your hero in the first instance it 
might have been finished by now. You're so 
hazy in your notions." 

" 1 only want to give you the general notion of 
it — the knocking about from place to place and 

''The Finest Story in the World" 39 

the fighting and all that. Can't you fill in the 
rest yourself? Make the hero save a girl on a 
pirate-galley and marry her or do something." 

** You're a really helpful collaborator. I sup- 
pose the hero went through some few adventures 
before he married." 

"Well then, make him a very artful card — a 
low sort of man — a sort of political man who 
went about making treaties and breaking them — 
a black-haired chap who hid behind the mast 
when the fighting began." 

" But you said the other day that he was red- 

"I couldn't have. Make him black-haired of 
course. You've no imagination." 

Seeing that I had just discovered the entire 
principles upon which the half-memory falsely 
called imagination is based, I felt entitled to 
laugh, but forbore, for the sake of the tale. 

"You're right. You're the man with imagi- 
nation. A black-haired chap in a decked ship," 
I said. 

"No, an open ship — like a big boat." 

This was maddening. 

"Your ship has been built and designed, 
closed and decked in; you said so yourself," I 

"No, no, not that ship. That was open, or 
half decked because — By Jove you're right. 

40 Indian Tales 

You made me think of the hero as a red-haired 
chap. Of course if he were red, the ship would 
be an open one with painted sails." 

Surely, I thought, he would remember now 
that he had served in two galleys at least — in a 
three-decked Greek one under the black-haired 
"political man," and again in a Viking's open 
sea-serpent under the man "red as a red bear" 
who went to Markland. The devil prompted me 
to speak. 

"Why, 'of course,' Charlie.?" said I. 

" I don't know. Are you making fun of me ? " 

The current was broken for the time being. I 
took up a notebook and pretended to make 
many entries in it. 

"It's a pleasure to work with an imaginative 
chap like yourself," I said, after a pause. "The 
way that you've brought out the character of the 
hero is simply wonderful." 

"Do you think so?" he answered, with a 
pleased flush. "I often tell myself that there's 
more in me than my mo — than people think." 

" There's an enormous amount in you." 

"Then, won't you let me send an essay on 
The Ways of Bank Clerks to Tit-Bits, and get 
the guinea prize?" 

"That wasn't exactly what I meant, old fel- 
low: perhaps it would be better to wait a little 
and go ahead with the galley-story." 

*'The Finest Story in the World" 41 

" Ah, but 1 sha'n't get the credit of that. Tit- 
Bits would publish my name and address if I 
win. What are you grinning at } They would." 

"I know it. Suppose you go for a wali<, I 
want to look through my notes about our story." 

Now this reprehensible youth who left me, a 
little hurt and put back, might for aught he or I 
knew have been one of the crew of the Argo — 
had been certainly slave or comrade to Thorfm 
Karlsefne. Therefore he was deeply interested 
in guinea competitions. Remembering what 
Grish Chunder had said I laughed aloud. The 
Lords of Life and Death would never allow 
Charlie Mears to speak with full knowledge of 
his pasts, and I must even piece out what be had 
told me with my own poor inventions while 
Charlie wrote of the ways of bank-clerks. 

I got together and placed on one file all my 
notes; and the net result was not cheering. I 
read them a second time. There was nothing 
that might not have been compiled at second- 
hand from other people's books — except, per- 
haps, the story of the fight in the harbor. The 
adventures of a Viking had been written many 
times before; the history of a Greek galley-slave 
was no new thing, 'and though I wrote both, 
who could challenge or confirm the accuracy of 
my details } I might as well tell a tale of two 
thousand years hence. The Lords of Life and 

42 Indian Tales 

Death were as cunning as Grish Chunder had 
hinted. They would allow nothing to escape 
that might trouble or make easy the minds of 
men. Though I was convinced of this, yet I 
could not leave the tale alone. Exaltation fol- 
lowed reaction, hot once, but twenty times in 
the next few weeks. My moods varied with the 
March sunlight and flying clouds. By night or 
in the beauty of a spring morning 1 perceived 
that I could write that tale and shift continents 
thereby, in the wet, windy afternoons, 1 saw 
that the tale might indeed be written, but would 
be nothing more than a faked, false-varnished, 
sham-rusted piece of Wardour Street work at 
the end. Then 1 blessed Charlie in many ways 
— though it was no fault of his. He seemed to 
be busy with prize competitions, and I saw less 
and less of him as the weeks went by and the 
earth cracked and grew ripe to spring, and the 
buds swelled in their sheaths. He did not care 
to read or talk of what he had read, and there 
was a new ring of self-assertion in his voice. I 
hardly cared to remind him of the galley when 
we met; but Charlie alluded to it on every oc- 
casion, always as a story from which money was 
to be made. 

"I think 1 deserve twenty-five per cent, don't 
1, at least," he said, with beautiful frankness. 
"I supplied all the ideas, didn't 1 ? " 

*'The Finest Story in the World" 43 

This greediness for silver was a new side ,n his 
nature. I assumed that it had been developed in 
the City, where Charlie was picking up the curi- 
ous nasal drawl of the underbred City man. 

" When the thing's done we'll talk about it. I 
can't make anything of it at present. Red-haired 
or black-haired hero are equally difficult." 

He was sitting by the fire staring at the red 
coals. "I can't understand what you find so 
difficult. It's all as clear as mud to me," he re- 
plied. A jet of gas puffed out between the bars, 
took light and whistled softly. "Suppose we 
take the red-haired hero's adventures first, from 
the time that he came south to my galley and 
captured it and sailed to the Beaches." 

I knew better now than to interrupt Charlie. I 
was out of reach of pen and paper, and dared 
not move to get them lest 1 should break the cur- 
rent. The gas-jet puffed and whinnied, Charlie's 
voice dropped almost to a whisper, and he told 
a tale of the sailing of an open galley to Furdur- 
strandi, of sunsets on the open sea, seen under 
the curve of the one sail evening after evening 
when the galley's beak was notched into the 
centre of the sinking disc, and "we sailed by 
that for we had no other guide," quoth Charlie. 
He spoke of a landing on an island and explora- 
tions in its woods, where the crew killed three 
men whom they found asleep under the pines. 

44 Indian Tales 

Their ghosts, Charhe said, followed the galley, 
swimming and choking in the water, and the 
crew cast lots and threw one of their number 
overboard as a sacrifice to the strange gods whom 
they had offended. Then they ate sea-weed 
when their provisions failed, and their legs 
swelled, and their leader, the red-haired man, 
killed two rowers who mutinied, and after a year 
spent among the woods they set sail for their 
own country, and a wind that never failed car- 
ried them back so safely that they all slept at 
night. This, and much more Charlie told. Some- 
times the voice fell so low that I could not catch 
the words, though every nerve was on the strain. 
He spoke of their leader, the red-haired man, as 
a pagan speaks of his God; for it was he who 
cheered them and slew them impartially as he 
thought best for their needs; and it was he who 
steered them for three days among floating ice, 
each floe crowded with strange beasts that " tried 
to sail with us," said Charlie, " and we beat them 
back with the handles of the oars." 

The gas-jet went out, a burned coal gave way, 
and the fire settled down with a tiny crash to the 
bottom of the grate. Charlie ceased speaking, 
and I said no word. 

"By Jove!" he said, at last, shaking his head. 
" I've been staring at the fire till I'm dizzy. What 
was I going to say ?" 

"The Fhiest Story in the World" 45 

"Something about the galley." 

" I remember now. It's 25 per cent, of the 
profits, isn't it.?" 

"It's anything you like when I've done the 

"I wanted to be sure of that. I must go 
now. I've — I've an appointment." And he left 

Had my eyes not been held I might have 
known that that broken muttering over the fire 
was the swan-song of Charlie Mears. But I 
thought it the prelude to fuller revelation. At 
last and at last I should cheat the Lords of Life 
and Death! 

When next Charlie came to me I received him 
with rapture. He was nervous and embarrassed, 
but his eyes were very full of light, and his lips 
a little parted. 

"I've done a poem," he said; and then, 
quickly: " it's the best I've ever done. Read it." 
He thrust it into my hand and retreated to the 

I groaned inwardly. It would be the work of 
half an hour to criticise — that is to say praise — 
the poem sufficiently to please Charlie. Then I 
had good reason to groan, for Charlie, discarding 
his favorite centipede metres, had launched into 
shorter and choppier verse, and verse with a mo- 
tive at the back of it. This is what I read: 

4^ Indian Tales 

<'The day is most fair, the cheery wind 
Halloos behind the hill, 
Where he bends the wood as seeraeth good, 

And the sapling to his will ! 
Riot O wind; there is that in my blood 
That would not have thee still! 

"She gave me herself, O Earth, O Sky; 
Grey sea, she is mine alone ! 
Let the sullen boulders hear my cry, 
And rejoice tho' they be but stone ! 

" Mine ! I have won her O good brown earth, 
Make merry ! 'Tis hard on Spring ; 
Make merry ; my love is doubly worth 

All worship your fields can bring ! 
Let the hind that tills you feel my mirth 
At the early harrowing." 

"Yes, it's the early harrowing, past a doubt," 
I said, with a dread at my heart. Charlie smiled, 
but did not answer. 

" Red cloud of the sunset, tell it abroad ; 
I am victor. Greet me O Sun, 
Dominant master and absolute lord 
Over the soul of one ! " 

" Well }" said Charlie, looking over my shoul- 

I thought it far from well, and very evil indeed, 
when he silently laid a photograph on the paper 
— the photograph of a girl with a curly head, and 
a foolish slack mouth. 

*'The Finest Story in the World" 47 

"Isn't it — isn't it wonderful?" he whispered, 
pink to the tips of his ears, wrapped in the rosy 
mystery of first love. "I didn't know; I didn't 
think — it came like a thunderclap." 

"Yes. It comes like a thunderclap. Are you 
very happy, Charlie?" 

' ' My God — she — she loves me ! " He sat down 
repeating the last words to himself, I looked at 
the hairless face, the narrow shoulders already 
bowed by desk-work, and wondered when, 
where, and how he had loved in his past lives. 

''What will your mother say ?" I asked, cheer- 

" I don't care a damn what she says." 

At twenty the things for which one does not 
care a damn should, properly, be many, but one 
must not include mothers in the list. I told him 
this gently; and he described Her, even as Adam 
must have described to the newly named beasts 
the glory and tenderness and beauty of Eve. 
Incidentally 1 learned that She was a tobacconist's 
assistant with a weakness for pretty dress, and 
had told him four or five times already that She 
had never been kissed by a man before. 

Charlie spoke on and on, and on ; while I, sepa- 
rated from him by thousands of years, was consid- 
ering the beginnings of things. Now I understood 
why the Lords of Life and Death shut the doors 
so carefully behind us. It is that we may not re- 

48 Indian Tales 

member our first wooings. Were it not so, our 
world would be without inhabitants in a hundred 

"Now, about that galley-story," I said, still 
more cheerfully, in a pause in the rush of the 

Charlie looked up as though he had been hit. 
"The galley — what galley ? Good heavens, don't 
joke, man! This is serious! You don't know 
how serious it is! " 

Grish Chunder was right. Charlie had tasted 
the love of woman that kills remembrance, and 
the finest story in the world would never be 


Der jungere Uhlanen 
Sit round mit open mouth 
While Breitmann tell dem stdories 
Of fightin' in the South ; 
Und gif dem moral lessons, 
How before der battle pops. 
Take a little prayer to Himmel 
Und a goot long drink of Schnapps. 

Hans Breittnann'' s Ballads. 

" Mary, Mother av Mercy, fwhat the divil pos- 
sist us to take an' kepe this meiancolius coun- 
thry ? Answer me that, sorr," 

It was Mulvaney who was speaking. The 
time was one o'clock of a stifling June night, and 
the place was the main gate of Fort Amara, most 
desolate and least desirable of all fortresses in 
India. What I was doing there at that hour is a 
question which only concerns M'Grath the Ser- 
geant of the Guard, and the men on the gate. 

"Slape,"said Mulvaney, "is a shuparfluous ne- 
cessity. This gyard'll shtay lively till relieved." 
He himself was stripped to the waist; Learoyd on 
the next bedstead was dripping from the skinful 
of water which Ortheris, clad only in white 
trousers, had just sluiced over his shoulders; and 

50 Indian Tales 

a fourth private was muttering uneasily as he 
dozed open-mouthed in the glare of the great 
guard-lantern. The heat under the bricked arch- 
way was terrifying. 

' • The worrst night that i ver I remimber. Eyah ! 
Is all Hell loose this tide?" said Mulvaney. A 
puff of burning wind lashed through the wicket- 
gate like a wave of the sea, and Ortheris swore. 

"Are ye more heasy, Jock,?" he said to Lea- 
royd. "Put yer 'ead between your legs. It'll 
go orf in a minute." 

"Ah don't care. Ah would not care, but ma 
heart is plaayin' tivvy-tivvy on ma ribs. Let me 
die! Oh, leave me die!" groaned the huge 
Yorkshireman, who was feeling the heat acutely, 
being of fleshly build. 

The sleeper under the lantern roused for a mo- 
ment and raised himself on his elbow. — "Die 
and be damned then!" he said, "/'m damned 
and I can't die!" 

"Who's that.?" 1 whispered, for the voice was 
new to me. 

"Gentleman born," said Mulvaney; "Corp'ril 
wan year, Sargint nex'. Red-hot on his emis- 
sion, but dhrinks like a fish. He'll be gone be- 
fore the cowld weather's here. So! " 

He slipped his boot, and with the naked toe 
just touched the trigger of his Martini. Ortheris 
misunderstood the movement, and the next in- 

]Vith the Main Guard 51 

stant the Irishman's rifle was dashed aside, while 
Ortheris stood before him, his eyes blazing with 

"You!" said Ortheris. " My Gawd, ji^o^ .' If 
it was you, wot would we do } " 

"Kape quiet, little man," said Mulvaney, put- 
ting him aside, but very gently; "'tis not me, 
nor will ut be me whoiie Dina Shadd's here. I 
was but showin' something." 

Learoyd, bowed on his bedstead, groaned, and 
the gentleman-ranker sighed in his sleep. Or- 
theris took Mulvaney's tendered pouch, and we 
three smoked gravely for a space while the dust- 
devils danced on the glacis and scoured the red- 
hot plain. 

" Pop ? " said Ortheris, wiping his forehead. 

"Don't tantalize wid talkin' av dhrink, or I'll 
shtuff you into your own breech-block an' — fire _•- . 

you off ! " grunted Mulvaney. tr' 

Ortheris chuckled, and from a niche in the ve- 
randa produced six bottles of gingerale. 

"Where did ye get ut, ye Machiavel?" said 
Mulvaney. " 'Tis no bazar pop." 

"'Ow do Hi know wot the Orf'cers drink?" 
answered Ortheris. " Arst the mess-man." 

" Ye'll have a Disthrict Coort-martial settin' on 
ye yet, me son," said Mulvaney, "but" — he 
opened a bottle — " I will not report ye this time. 
Fwhat's in the mess-kid is mint for the belly, as 

52 Indian Tales 

they say, 'specially whin that mate is dhrink. 
Here's luck! A bloody war or a — no, we've got 
the sickly season. War, thin!" — he waved the 
innocent " pop " to the four quarters of Heaven. 
"Bloody war! North, East, South, an' West! 
Jock, ye quakin' hayrick, come an' dhrink." 

But Learoyd, half mad v/ith the fear of death 
presaged in the swelling veins of his neck, was 
pegging his Maker to strike him dead, and fight- 
ing for more air between his prayers. A second 
time Ortheris drenched the quivering body with 
water, and the giant revived. 

"An' Ah divn't see thot a mon is i' fettle for 
gooin' on to live; an' Ah divn't see thot there is 
owt for t' livin' for. Hear now, lads! Ah'm 
tired — tired. There's nobbut watter i' ma bones. 
Let me die! " 

The hollow of the arch gave back Learoyd's 
broken whisper in a bass boom. Mulvaney 
looked at me hopelessly, but I remembered how 
the madness of despair had once fallen upon 
Ortheris, that weary, weary afternoon in the 
banks of the Khemi River, and how it had been 
exorcised by the skilful magician Mulvaney. 

"Talk, Terence!" I said, "or we shall have 
Learoyd slinging loose, and hell be worse than 
Ortheris was. Talk! He'll answer to your 

Almost before Ortheris had deftly thrown all 

JVtth the Main Guard 53 

the rifles of the Guard on Mulvaney's bedstead, 
the Irishman's voice was uplifted as that of one 
in the middle of a story, and, turning to me, he 
said — 

"In barricks or out of it, as you say, sorr, an 
Oirish rig'mint is the divil an' more. 'Tis only 
fit for a young man wid eddicated flstesses. Oh 
the crame av disruption is an Oirish rig'mint, an' 
rippin', tearin', ragin' scattherers in the field av 
war! My first rig'mint was Oirish — Faynians 
an' rebils to the heart av their miarrow was they, 
an' so they fought for the Widdy betther than 
most, bein' contrairy — Oirish, They was the 
Black Tyrone. You've heard av thim, sorr.?" 

Heard of them! I knew the Black Tyrone for 
the choicest collection of unmitigated black- 
guards, dog-stealers, robbers of hen-roosts, as- 
saulters of innocent citizens, and recklessly dar- 
ing heroes in the Army List. Half Europe and 
half Asia has had cause to know the Black 
Tyrone — good luck be with their tattered Colors 
as Glory has ever been ! 

"They was hot pickils an' ginger! I cut a 
man's head tu deep wid my belt in the days av 
my youth, an', afther some circumstances which 
I will oblitherate, I came to the Ould Rig'mint, 
bearin' the character av a man wid hands an' 
feet. But, as 1 was goin' to tell you, I fell acrost 
the Black Tyrone agin wan day whin we wanted 

54 Indian Tales 

thim powerful bad. Orth'ris, me son, fwhat 
was the name av that place where they sint wan 
comp'ny av us an' wan av the Tyrone roun' a hill 
an' down again, all for to tache the Paythans 
something they'd niver learned before? Afther 
Ghuzni 'twas." 

"Don't know what the bloomin' Paythans 
called it. We call it Silver's Theayter. You 
know that, sure! " 

" Silver's Theatre — so 'twas. A gut betune 
two hills, as black as a bucket, an' as thin as a 
girl's waist. There was over-many Paythans for 
our convaynience in the gut, an' begad they 
called thimselves a Reserve — bein' impident by 
natur! Our Scotchies an' lashins av Gurkys was 
poundin' into some Paythan rig'mints, 1 think 
'twas. Scotchies an' Gurkys are twins bekaze 
they're so onlike, an' they get dhrunk together 
whin God plazes. As I was sayin', they sint 
wan comp'ny av the Ould an wan av the Tyrone 
to double up the hill an' clane out the Paythan 
Reserve. Orf'cers was scarce in thim days, 
fwhat with dysintry an' not takin' care av thim- 
selves, an' we was sint out wid only wan orf'cer 
for the comp'ny; but he was a Man that had his 
feet beneath him, an' all his teeth in their sock- 

" Who was he ? " I asked. 

" Captain O'Neil— Old Crook — Cruikna-bulleen 

IVtth the Main Guard 55 

— him that I tould ye that tale av whin he was in 
Burma.' Hah! He was a Man. The Tyrone 
tuk a Httle orf'cer bhoy, but divil a bit was he in 
command, as I'll dimonstrate presintly. We an' 
they came over the brow av the hill, wan on 
each side av the gut, an' there was that ondacint 
Reserve waitin' down below like rats in a pit. 

" ' Howld on, men,' sez Crook, who tuk a 
mother's care av us always. ' Rowl some rocks 
on thim by way av visitin'-kyards.' We hadn't 
rowled more than twinty bowlders, an' the 
Paythans was beginnin' to swear tremenjus, 
whin the little orf'cer bhoy av the Tyrone 
shqueaks out acrost the valley: — ' Fwhat the 
devil an' all are you doin', shpoilin' the fun for 
my men } Do ye not see they'll stand ?' 

" * Faith, that's a rare pluckt wan! ' sez Crook. 
* Niver mind the rocks, men. Come along down 
an' take tay wid thim! ' 

" 'There's damned little sugar in ut!' sez my 
rear-rank man; but Crook heard. 

"'Have ye not all got spoons.^' he sez, 
laughin', an' down we wint as fast as we cud. 
Learoyd bein' sick at the Base, he, av coorse, 
was not there." 

" Thot's a lie! " said Learoyd, dragging his bed- 
stead nearer. " Ah gotten thot theer, an' you 

• Now first of the foemen of Boh Da Thone 
Was Captain O'Neil of the Black Tyrone. 

The Ballad of Boh Da Thone. 


56 Indian Tales 

knaw it, Mulvaney." He threw up his arms, 
and from the right arm-pit ran, diagonally 
through the fell of his chest, a thin white line 
terminating near the fourth left rib. 

**My mind's goin'," said Mulvaney, the un- 
abashed. " Ye were there. Fwhat I was thinkin' 
of! 'Twas another man, av coorse. Well, you'll 
remimber thin, Jock, how we an' the Tyrone 
met wid a bang at the bottom an' got jammed 
past all movin' among the Paythans." 

"Ow! It was a tight 'ole. I was squeezed 
till I thought I'd bloomin' well bust," said Orthe- 
ris, rubbing his stomach meditatively. 

" 'Twas no place for a little man, but wan lit- 
tle man " — Mulvaney put his hand on Ortheris's 
shoulder — "saved the life av me. There we 
shtuck, for divil a bit did the Paythans flinch, 
an' divil a bit dare we; our business bein' to 
clear 'em out. An' the most exthryordinar' thing 
av all was that we an' they just rushed into each 
other's arrums, an' there was no firing for a long 
time. Nothin' but knife an' bay'nit when we 
cud get our hands free: an' that was not often. 
We was breast-on to thim, an' the Tyrone was 
yelpin' behind av us in a way I didn't see the 
lean av at first. But 1 knew later, an' so did the 

'"Knee to knee!' sings out Crook, wid a 
laugh whin the rush av our comin' into the gut 

With the Main Guard 57 

shtopped, an' he was huggin' a hairy great 
Paythan, neither bein' able to do anything to the 
other, tho' both was wishful. 

" ' Breast to breast! ' he sez, as the Tyrone was 
pushin' us forward closer an' closer. 

" ' An' hand over back! ' sez a Sargint that was 
behin'. I saw a sword lick out past Crook's ear, 
an' the Paythan was tuk in the apple av his throat 
like a pig at Dromeen fair. 

" 'Thank ye, Brother Inner Guard,' sez Crook, 
cool as a cucumber widout salt. ' I wanted that 
room.' An' he wint forward by the thickness 
av a man's body, havin' turned the Paythan un- 
dher him. The man bit the heel off Crook's boot 
in his death-bite. 

"'Push, men!' sez Crook. 'Push, ye paper- 
backed beggars!' he sez. 'Am I to pull ye 
through?' So we pushed, an' we kicked, an' 
we swung, an' we swore, an' the grass bein' 
slippery, our heels wouldn't bite, an' God help 
the front-rank man that wint down that day! " 

" 'Ave you ever bin in the Pit hentrance o' the 
Vic. on a thick night } " interrupted Ortheris. 
" It was worse nor that, for they was goin' one 
way an' we wouldn't 'ave it. Leastaways, I 
'adn't much to say." 

"Faith, me son, ye said ut, thin. I kep' the 
little man betune my knees as long as 1 cud, but 
he was pokin' roun' wid his bay'nit, blindin' an' 

5^ Indian Tales 

stiffin' feroshus. The devil of a man is Orth'ris 
in a ruction — aren't ye ? " said Mulvaney. 

"Don't make game! " said the Cockney. "I 
knowed I wasn't no good then, but I guv 'em 
compot from the lef flank when we opened 
out. No!" he said, bringing down his hand 
with a thump on the bedstead, "a bay'nit ain't 
no good to a little man — might as well 'ave a 
bloomin' fishin'-rod! I 'ate a clawin', maulin' 
mess, but gimme a breech that's wore out a bit, 
an' hamminition one year in store, to let the 
powder kiss the bullet, an' put me somewheres 
where I ain't trod on by 'ulkin swine like you, 
an' s'elp me Gawd, I could bowl you over five 
times outer seven at height 'undred. V/ould yer 
try, you lumberin' Hirishman." 

"No, ye wasp. I've seen ye do ut. I say 
there's nothin' better than the bay'nit, wid a long 
reach, a double twist av ye can, an' a slow re- 

"Dom the bay'nit," said Learoyd, who had 
been listening intently. "Look a-here!" He 
picked up a rifle an inch below the foresight 
with an underhand action, and used it exactly as 
a man would use a dagger. 

"Sitha," said he, softly, "thot's better than 
owt, for a mon can bash t' faace wi' thot, an', if 
he divn't, he can breeak t' forearm o' t' gaard, 
Tis not i' t' books, though. Gie me t' butt." 

IVtth the Main Guard 59 

" Each does ut his own way, like makin' love," 
said Mulvaney, quietly; " the butt or the bay'nit 
or the bullet accordin' to the natur' av the man. 
Well, as I was sayin', we shtuck there breathin' 
in each other's faces and swearin' powerful; 
Orth'ris cursin' the mother that bore him bekaze 
he was not three inches taller. 

" Prisintly he sez: — 'Duck, ye lump, an' I can 
get at a man over your shouldher! ' 

"'You'll blow me head off,' I sez, throwin' 
my arm clear; 'go through under my arm-pit, 
ye bloodthirsty little scutt,' sez I, 'but don't 
shtick me or I'll wring your ears round.' 

" Fwhat was ut ye gave the Paythan man for- 
ninst me, him that cut at me whin 1 cudn't move 
hand or foot } Hot or cowld was ut ? " 

"Cold," said Ortheris, " up an' under the rib- 
jint. 'E come down flat. Best for you 'e did." 

"Thrue, my son! This jam thing that I'm 
talkin' about lasted for five minutes good, an' 
thin we got our arms clear an' wint in. 1 misre- 
mimber exactly fwhat 1 did, but I didn't want 
Dinah to be a widdy at the Depot. Thin, after 
some promishkuous hackin' we shtuck again, an' 
the Tyrone behin' was caliin' us dogs an' cowards 
an' all manner av names; we barrin' their way. 

" ' Fwhat ails the Tyrone ?' thinks I; 'they've 
the makin's av a most convanient fight here.' 

" A man behind me sez beseechful an' in '» 

6o Indian Tales 

whisper : — ' Let me get at thim ! For the Love av 
Mary give me room beside ye, ye tall man! " 

"'An' who are you that's so anxious to be 
kilt ? ' sez 1, widout turnin' my head, for the long 
knives was dancin' in front like the sun on Done- 
gal Bay whin ut's rough. 

"'We've seen our dead,' he sez, squeezin' 
into me; ' our dead that was men two days gone! 
An' me that was his cousin by blood could not 
bring Tim Coulan off! Let me get on,' he sez, 
' let me get to thim or I'll run ye through the 

"'My troth,' thinks I, 'if the Tyrone have 
seen their dead, God help the Paythans this day ! ' 
An' thin I knew why the Oirish was ragin' be- 
hind us as they was. 

" I gave room to the man, an' he ran forward 
wid the Haymaker's Lift on his bay'nit an' swung 
a Paythan clear off his feet by the belly-band av 
the brute, an' the iron bruk at the lockin'-ring. 

" 'Tim Coulan '11 slape easy to-night,' sez he, 
wid a grin; an' the next minut his head was in 
two halves and he wint down grinnin' by sec- 

"The Tyrone was pushin' an' pushin' in, an' 
our men was swearin' at thim, an' Crook was 
workin' away in front av us all, his sword-arm 
swingin' like a pump-handle an' his revolver 
spittin' like a cat. But the strange thing av ut 

]Vith the Main Guard 6i 

was the. quiet that lay upon, 'Twas like a fight 
in a drame — except for thim that was dead. 

" Whin 1 gave room to the Oirishman 1 was 
expinded an' forlorn in my inside. 'Tis a way I 
have, savin' your presince, sorr, in action. ' Let 
me out, bhoys,' sez I, backin' in among thim. 
'I'm goin' to be onwell!' Faith they gave me 
room at the wurrud, though they would not ha' 
given room for all Hell wid the chill off. When 
I got clear, I was, savin' your presince, sorr, out- 
ragis sick bekaze 1 had dhrunk heavy that day. 

"Well an' far out av harm was a Sargint av 
the Tyrone sittin' on the little orf'cer bhoy who 
had stopped Crook from rowlin' the rocks. Oh, 
he was a beautiful bhoy, an' the long black 
curses was slidin' out av his innocint mouth like 
mornin'-jew from a rose! 

" ' Fwhat have you got there .^' sez I to the 

"'Wan av Her Majesty's bantams wid his 
spurs up,' sez he. 'He's goin' to Coort-martial 

"'Let me go!' sez the little orf'cer bhoy. 
'Let me go and command my men!' manin' 
thereby the Black Tyrone which was beyond any 
command — ay, even av they had made the Divil 
a Field orf'cer. 

" ' His father howlds my mother's cow-feed in 
Clonmel,' sez the man that was sittin' on him. 

62 Indian Tales 

'Will I go back to his mother an' tell her that 
I've let him throw himself away ? Lie still, ye 
little pinch av dynamite, an' Coort-martial me 

" ' Good,' sez I; ''tis the likes av him makes 
the likes av the Commandher-in-Chief, but we 
must presarve thim. Fwhat d'you want to do, 
sorr ? ' sez I, very politeful. 

"'Kill the beggars — kill the beggars!' he 
shqueaks; his big blue eyes brimmin' wid tears. 

"'An' how'll ye do that?' sez I. 'You've 
shquibbed off your revolver like a child wid a 
cracker; you can make no play wid that fine 
large sword av yours; an' your hand's shakin' 
like an asp on a leaf. Lie still an' grow,' sez L 

" ' Get back to your comp'ny,' sez he; 'you're 
insolint! ' 

'"All in good time,' sez I, 'but I'll have a 
dhrink first.' 

"Just thin Crook comes up, blue an' white all 
over where he wasn't red. 

"'Wather!' sez he; 'I'm dead wid drouth! 
Oh, but it's a gran' day!' 

" He dhrank half a skinful, and the rest he tilts 
into his chest, an' it fair hissed on the hairy hide 
av him. He sees the little orf'cer bhoy undher 
the Sargint. 

" ' Fwhat's yonder } ' sez he. 

" 'Mutiny, sorr,' sez the Sargint, an' the orf'- 

IVith the Main Guard 63 

cer bhoy begins pleadin' pitiful to Crook to be 
let go: but divil a bit wud Crook budge. 

'"Kape him there,' he sez, "tis no child's 
work this day. By the same token,' sez he, ' I'll 
confishcate that iligant nickel-plated scent-sprink- 
ler av yours, for my own has been vomitin' dish- 
graceful! ' 

"The fork av his hand was black wid the 
backspit av the machine. vSo he tuk the orf'cer 
bhoy's revolver. Ye may look, sorr, but, by my 
faith, there's a dale more done in the field than 
iver gets into Field Ordhers ! 

" ' Come on, Mulvaney,' sez Crook; ' is this a 
Coort-martial "? ' The two av us wint back to- 
gether into the mess an' the Paythans were still 
standin' up. They was not too impart'nint 
though, for the Tyrone was callin' wan to an- 
other to remimber Tim Coulan. 

" Crook stopped outside av the strife an' looked 
anxious, his eyes rowlin' roun'. 

" ' Fwhat is ut, sorr?' sez I; 'can I get ye 
anything ? ' 

" * Where's a bugler ?' sez he. 

" 1 wint into the crowd — our men was 
dhrawin' breath behin' the Tyrone who was 
fightin' like sowls in tormint — an' prisintly I came 
acrost little Frehan, our bugler bhoy, pokin' 
roun' among the best wid a rifle an' bay'nit. 

" ' is amusin' yoursilf fwhat you're paid for. 

64 Indian Tales 

ye limb?' sez I, catchin' him by the scruff. 
'Come out av that an' attind to your duty,' I sez; 
but the bhoy was not pleased. 

" * I've got wan,' sez he, grinnin', 'big as you, 
Mulvaney, an' fair half as ugly. Let me go get 

"I was dishpleased at the personability av that 
remark, so I tucks him under my arm an' carries 
him to Crook who was watchin' how the fight 
wint. Crook cuffs him till the bhoy cries, an' 
thin sez nothm' for a whoile. 

"The Paythans began to flicker onaisy, an' our 
men roared. 'Opin ordher! Double!' sez 
Crook. ' Blow, child, blow for the honor av the 
British Arrmy!' 

"That bhoy blew like a typhoon, an' the 
Tyrone an' we opined out as the Paythans broke, 
an' I saw that fwhat had gone before wud be 
kissin' an' huggin' to fwhat was to come. We'd 
dhruv thim into a broad part av the gut whin 
they gave, an' thin we opined out an' fair danced 
down the valley, dhrivin' thim before us. Oh, 
'twas lovely, an' stiddy, too! There was the 
Sargints on the flanks av what was left av us, 
kapin' touch, an' the fire was runnin' from flank 
to flank, an' the Paythans was dhroppin'. We 
opined out wid the widenin' av the valley, an' 
whin the valley narrowed we closed again like 
the shtjcks on a ladv's fan, an' at the far ind av 

JVtth the Main Guard 65 

the gut where they thried to stand, we fair blew 
them off their feet, for we had expinded very 
little ammunition by reason av the knife work." 

"Hi used thirty rounds goin' down that val- 
ley," said Ortheris, "an' it was gentleman's 
work. Might 'a' done it in a white 'andkerchief 
an' pink silk stockin's, that part. Hi was on in 
that piece." 

" You could ha' heard the Tyrone yellin' a mile 
away," said Mulvaney, "an' 'twas all their Sar- 
gints cud do to get thim off. They was mad — 
mad — mad! Crook sits down in the quiet that 
fell whin we had gone down the valley, an' cov- 
ers his face wid his hands. Prisintly we all came 
back again accordin' to our natures and dispo- 
sishins, for they, mark you, show through the 
hide av a man in that hour. 

"'Bhoys! bhoys!' sez Crook to himself. *I 
misdoubt we could ha' engaged at long range an' 
saved betther men than me.' He looked at our 
dead an' said no more. 

"'Captain dear,' sez a man av the Tyrone, 
comin' up wid his mouth bigger than iver his 
mother kissed ut, spittin' blood like a whale; 
'Captain dear,' sez he, 'if wan or two in the 
shtalls have been discommoded, the gallery have 
enjoyed the performinces av a Roshus.' 

"Thin I knew that man for the Dublin dock- 
rat he was — wan av the bhovs that made the 

66 Indian Tales 

lessee av Silver's Theatre grey before his time 
wid tearin' out the bowils av the benches an' 
t'rowin' thim into the pit. So I passed the 
wurrud that I knew when 1 was in the Tyrone an' 
we lay in Dublin. ' 1 don't know who 'twas,' I 
whispers, 'an' 1 dont care, but anyways I'll 
knock the face av you, Tim Kelly.' 

"'Eyah!' sez the man, 'was you there too? 
We'll call ut Silver's Theatre.' Half the Tyrone, 
knowin' the ould place, tuk ut up: so we called 
ut Silver's Theatre. 

"The little orf'cer bhoy av the Tyrone was 
thremblin' an' cryin'. He had no heart for the 
Coort-martials that he talked so big upon. ' Ye'll 
do well later,' sez Crook, very quiet, 'for not 
bein' allowed to kill yourself for amusemint.' 

" ' I'm a dishgraced man! ' sez the little orf'cer 

" 'Put me undher arrest, sorr, if you will, but, 
by my sowl, I'd do ut again sooner than face 
your mother wid you dead,' sez the Sargint that 
had sat on his head, standin' to attention an' sa- 
lutin'. But the young wan only cried as tho' his 
little heart was breakin'. 

"Thin another man av the Tyrone came up, 
wid the fog av fightin' on him." 

"The what, Mulvaney?" 

"Fog av fightin'. You know, sorr, that, like 
makin' love, ut takes each man diff'rint. Now I 

IVtth the Main Guard 67 

can't help bein' powerful sick whin I'm in action. 
Orth'ris, here, niver stops swearin' from ind to 
ind, an' the only time that Learoyd opins his 
mouth to sing is whin he is messin' wid other 
people's heads; for he's a dhirty fighter is Jock. 
Recruities sometime cry, an' sometime they don't 
know fwhat they do, an' sometime they are all 
for cuttin' throats an' such like dirtiness; but 
some men get heavy-dead-dhrunk on the fightin'. 
This man was. He was staggerin', an' his eyes 
were half shut, an' we cud hear him dhraw 
breath twinty yards away. He sees the little 
orfcer bhoy, an' comes up, talkin' thick an' 
drowsy to himsilf. 'Blood the young whelp!' 
he sez; 'blood the young whelp;' an' wid that 
he threw up his arms, shpun roun', an' dropped 
at our feet, dead as a Paythan, an' th^re was niver 
sign or scratch on him. They said 'twas his 
heart was rotten, but oh, 'twas a quare thing to 

"Thin we wint to bury our dead, for we wud 
not lave thim to the Paythans, an' in movin' 
among the haythen we nearly lost that little 
orfcer bhoy. He was for givin' wan divil 
wather and layin' him aisy against a rock. ' Be 
careful, sorr,' sez 1; ' a wounded Paythan's worse 
than a live wan.' My troth, before the words 
was out of my mouth, the man on the ground 
^res at the orfcer bhoy lanin' over him, an' 1 saw 

68 Indian Tales 

the helmit fly. I dropped the butt on the face av 
the man an' tuk his pistol. The httle orf'cer 
bhoy turned very white, for the hair av half his 
head was singed away. 

" ' 1 tould you so, sorr! ' sez I; an', afther that, 
whin he wanted to help a Paythan 1 stud wid the 
muzzle contagious to the ear. They dare not do 
anythin' but curse. The Tyrone was growlin' 
like dogs over a bone that had been taken away 
too soon, for they had seen their dead an' they 
wanted to kill ivry sowl on the ground. Crook 
tould thim that he'd blow the hide off any man 
that misconducted himself; but, seeing that ut 
was the first time the Tyrone had iver seen their 
dead, I do not wondher they were on the sharp. 
'Tis a shameful sight! Whin I first saw ut I wud 
niver ha' given quarter to any man north of the 
Khaibar — no, nor woman either, for the women 
used to come out afther dhark — Auggrh! 

" Well, evenshually we buried our dead an' 
tuk away our wounded, an' come over the brow 
av the hills to see the Scotchies an' the Gurkys 
taking tay with the Paythans in bucketsfuls. We 
were a gang av dissolute ruffians, for the blood 
had caked the dust, an' the sweat had cut the 
cake, an' our bay'nits was hangin' like butchers' 
steels betune ur legs, an' most av us were marked 
one way or another. 

"A Staff Orf'cer man, clean as a new rifle. 

IVtth the Main Guard 69 

rides up an' sez: 'What damned scarecrows are 
you ? ' 

"'A comp'ny av Her Majesty's Black Tyrone 
an' wan av the Ould Rig'mint,' sez Crook very 
quiet, givin' our visitors the flure as 'twas. 

"'Oh!' sez the Staff Orf'cer; 'did you dis- 
lodge that Reserve ? ' 

" 'No!' sez Crook, an' the Tyrone laughed. 

" ' Thin fwhat the divil have ye done ? ' 

" ' Disthroyed ut,' sez Crook, an' he took us on, 
but not before Toomey that was in the Tyrone 
sez aloud, his voice somewhere in his stummick: 
' Fwhat in the name av misfortune does this par- 
rit widout a tail mane by shtoppin' the road av 
his betthers.?' 

"The Staff Orf'cer wint blue, an' Tcomey 
makes him pink by changin' to the voice av a 
minowderin' woman an' sayin': 'Come an' kiss 
me. Major dear, for me husband's at the wars an' 
I'm all alone at the Depot.' 

"The Staff Orf'cer wint away, an' I cud see 
Crook's shoulthers shakin'. 

"His Corp'ril checks Toomey. 'Lave me 
alone,' sez Toomey, widout a wink. '1 was his 
batman before he was married an' he knows 
fwhat I mane, av you don't. There's nothin' 
like livin' in the hoight av society.' D'you re- 
mimber that, Orth'ris!" 

" Hi do. Toomey, 'e died in 'orspital, next 

70 Indian Tales 

week it was, 'cause I bought 'arf his kit; an' I 
remember after that " — 


The Rehef had come; it was four o'clock. "I'll 
catch a kyart for you, sorr," said Mulvaney, div- 
ing hastily into his accoutrements. " Come up to 
the top av the Fort an' we'll pershue our invisti- 
gations into M'Grath's shtable." The relieved 
Guard strolled round the main bastion on its way 
to the swimming-bath, and Learoyd grew almost 
talkative, Ortheris looked into the Fort ditch 
and across the plain. "Ho! it's weary waitin' 
for Ma-ary!" he hummed; "but I'd like to kill 
some more bloomin' Paythans before my time's 
up. War! Bloody war! North, East, South, and 

"Amen," said Learoyd, slowly. 

" Fwhat's here.?" said Mulvaney, checking at 
a blurr of white by the foot of the old sentry- 
box. He stooped and touched it. "It'sNorah 
— Norah M'Taggart! Why, Nonie, darlin', fwhat 
are ye doin' out av your mother's bed at this 

The two-year-old child of Sergeant M'Taggart 
must have wandered for a breath of cool air to 
the very verge of the parapet of the Fort ditch. 
Her tiny night-shift was gathered into a wisp 
round her neck and she moaned in her sleep. 
*' See there! "said Mulvaney; "poor lamb! Look 

With the Main Guard 71 

at the heat-rash on the innocint skin av her. 'Tis 
hard — crool hard even for us. Fwhat must it be 
for these ? Wake up, Nonie, your mother will 
be woild about you. Begad, the child might ha' 
fallen into the ditch!" 

He picked her up in the growing light, and set 
her on his shoulder, and her fair curls touched 
the grizzled stubble of his temples. Ortheris and 
Learoyd followed snapping their fingers, while 
Norah smiled at them a sleepy smile. Then car- 
olled Mulvaney, clear as a lark, dancing the baby 
on his arm — 

" If any young man should marry you, 
Say nothin' about the joke ; 
That iver ye slep' in a sinthry-box, 
Wrapped up in a soldier's cloak." 

"Though, on my so wl, Nonie, " he said, gravely, 
"there was not much cloak about you. Niver 
mind, you won't dhress like this ten years to 
come. Kiss your friends an' run along to your 

Nonie, set down close to the Married Quarters, 
nodded with the quiet obedience of the soldier's 
child, but, ere she pattered off over the flagged 
path, held up her lips to be kissed by the Three 
Musketeers. Ortheris wiped his mouth with the 
back of his hand and swore sentimentally; Lea- 
royd turned pink; and the two walked awav 

T^- Indian Tales 

together The Yorkshireman lifted up his voice 
and gave in thunder the chorus of The Sentry- 
Box, while Ortheris piped at his side. 

"'Bin to a bloomin* sing-song, you two?" 
said the Artilleryman, who was taking his car- 
tridge down to the Morning Gun. "You're over 
merry for these dashed days." 

" I bid ye take care o' the brat," said he, 
For it comes of a noble race," 

Learoyd bellowed. The voices died out in the 

"Oh, Terence!" I said, dropping into Mul- 
vaney's speech, when we were alone, "it's you 
that have the Tongue! " 

He looked at me wearily; his eyes were sunk 
in his head, and his face was drawn and white. 
"Eyah!" said he; "I've blandandhered thim 
through the night Somehow, but can thim that 
helps others help thimselves ^ Answer me that, 
sorr! " 

And over the bastions of Fort-Amara broke the 
pitiless day. 


" An officer and a gentleman." 

HIS full name was Percival William Williams, 
but he picked up the other name in a nurs- 
ery-book, and that was the end of the christened 
titles. His mother's ayah called him Willie- 
Baba, but as he never paid the faintest attention 
to anything that the ayah said, her wisdom did 
not help matters. 

His father was the Colonel of the 195th, and as 
soon as Wee Willie Winkie was old enough to 
understand what Military Discipline meant, Colo- 
nel Williams put him under it. There was no 
other way of managing the child. When he was 
good for a week, he drew good-conduct pay; 
and when he was bad, he was deprived of his 
good-conduct stripe. Generally he was bad, for 
India offers so many chances to little six-year- 
olds of going wrong. 

Children resent familiarity froni strangers, and 
Wee Willie Winkie was a very particular child. 
Once he accepted an acquaintance, he was gra- 
ciously pleased to thaw. He accepted Brandis, a 
subaltern of the 195th, on sight. Brandis v/as 
having tea at the Colonel's, and Wee Willie Win- 


74 Indian Tales 

kie entered strong in the possession of a good- 
conduct badge won for not cliasing the hens 
round the compound. He regarded Brandis with 
gravity for at least ten minutes, and then de- 
livered himself of his opinion. 

"I like you," said he, slowly, getting off his 
chair and coming over to Brandis. " I like you. 
I shall call you Coppy, because of your hair. Do 
you mind being called Coppy } it is because of ve 
hair, you know." 

Here was one of the most embarrassing of Wee 
Willie Winkle's peculiarities. He would look at 
a stranger for some time, and then, without 
warning or explanation, would give him a name. 
And the name stuck. No regimental penalties 
could break Wee Willie Winkle of this habit. 
He lost his good-conduct badge for christening 
the Commissioner's wife " Fobs "; but nothing 
that the Colonel could do made the Station forego 
the nickname, and Mrs. Collen remained Mrs. 
•' Fobs " till the end of her stay. So Brandis was 
christened " Coppy," and rose, therefore, in the 
estimation of the regiment. 

If Wee Willie Winkie took an interest in any 
one, the fortunate man was envied alike by the 
mess and the rank and file. And in their envy 
lay no suspicion of self-interest. "The Colonel's 
son "was idolized on his own merits entirely. 
Yet Wee Willie Winkie was not lovely. His face 

Wee Willie Winkie 75 

was permanently freckled, as his legs were per- 
manently scratched, and in spite of his mother's 
almost tearful remonstrances he had insisted upon 
having his long yellow locks cut short in the mil- 
itary fashion. "I want my hair like Sergeant 
Tummil's," said Wee Willie Winkie, and, his 
father abetting, the sacrifice was accomplished. 

Three weeks after the bestowal of his youthful 
affections on Lieutenant Brandis — henceforward 
to be called " Coppy " for the sake of brevity— 
Wee Willie Winkie was destined to behold 
strange things and far beyond his comprehen- 

Coppy returned his liking with interest. 
Coppy had let him wear for five rapturous min- 
utes his own big sword — just as tall as Wee 
Willie Winkie. Coppy had promised him a ter- 
rier puppy; and Coppy had permitted him to 
witness the miraculous operation of shaving. 
Nay, more — Coppy had said that even he. Wee 
Willie Winkie, would rise in time to the owner- 
ship of a box of shiny knives, a silver soap-box 
and a silver-handled "sputter-brush," as Wee 
Willie Winkie called it. Decidedly, there was no 
one except his father, who could give or take 
away good-conduct badges at pleasure, half so 
wise, strong, and valiant as Coppy with the 
Afghan and Egyptian medals on his breast. 
Why, then, should Coppy be guilty of the un- 

76 Indian Tales 

manly weakness of kissing — vehemently kissing 
— a "big girl," Miss Allardyce to wit? In the 
course of a morning ride, Wee Willie Winkie 
had seen Coppy so doing, and, like the gentle- 
man he was, had promptly wheeled round and 
cantered back to his groom, lest the groom should 
also see. 

Under ordinary circumstances he would have 
spoken to his father, but he felt instinctively that 
this was a matter on which Coppy ought first tc 
be consulted. 

" Coppy," shouted Wee Willie Winkie, rein- 
ing up outside that subaltern's bungalow early 
one morning — " 1 want to see you, Coppy!" 

"Come in, young 'un," returned Coppy, who 
was at early breakfast in the midst of his dogs. 
"What mischief have you been getting into 
now } " 

Wee Willie Winkie had done nothing notori- 
ously bad for three days, and so stood on a pin- 
nacle of virtue. 

"I've been doing nothing bad," said he, curling 
himself into a long chair with a studious affecta- 
tion of the Colonel's languor after a hot parade. 
He buried his freckled nose in a tea-cup and, 
with eyes staring roundly over the rim, asked: — 
"I say, Coppy, is it pwoper to kiss big girls ?" 

" By Jove! You're beginning early. Who do 
you want to kiss ?" 

Wee Willie Winkle jy 

" No one. My muvver's always kissing me if 
I don't stop her. If it isn't pwoper, how was you 
kissing Major Allardyce's big girl last morning, 
by ve canal ? " 

Coppy's brow wrinkled. He and Miss Allar- 
dyce had with great craft managed to keep their 
engagement secret for a fortnight. There were 
urgent and imperative reasons why Major Allar- 
dyce should not know how matters stood for at 
least another month, and this small marplot had 
discovered a great deal too much. 

"I saw you," said Wee Willie Winkie, calmly. 
" But ve groom didn't see. I said, ' Hiifjcw.' " 

"Oh, you had that much sense, you young 
Rip," groaned poor Coppy, half amused and half 
angry. "And how many people may you have 
told about it ? " 

"Only me myself. You didn't tell when I 
twied to wide ve buffalo ven my pony was lame; 
and I fought you wouldn't like." 

"Winkie," said Coppy, enthusiastically, shak- 
ing the small hand, "you're the best of good 
fellows. Look here, you can't understand all 
these things. One of these days — hang it, how 
can I make you see it! — I'm going to marry Miss 
Allardyce, and then she'll be Mrs. Coppy, as you 
say. If your young mind is so scandalized at 
the idea of kissing big girls, go and tell your 

78 Indian Tales 

" What will happen ?" said Wee Willie Win- 
kle, who firmly believed that his father was om- 

" I shall get into trouble," said Coppy, playing 
his trump card with an appealing look at the 
holder of the ace. 

" Ven I won't," said Wee Willie Winkie, 
briefly. "But my faver says it's un-man-Iy to 
be always kissing, and I didn't fmkyou'd do vat, 

"I'm not always kissing, old chap. It's only 
now and then, and when you're bigger you'll do 
it too. Your father meant it's not good for little 

"Ah!" said Wee Willie Winkie, now fully 
enlightened. " It's like ve sputter-brush ?" 

"Exactly," said Coppy, gravely. 

"But I don't fink I'll ever want to kiss big 
girls, nor no one, 'cept my muvver. And I must 
vat, you know." 

There was a long pause, broken by Wee Wil- 
lie Winkie. 

"Are you fond of vis big girl, Coppy?" 

"Awfully!" said Coppy. 

" Fonder van you are of Bell or ve Butcha — or 

" It's in a different way," said Coppy. " You 
see, one of these days Miss Allardyce will belong 
to me, but you'll grow up and command rhe 

iVee Willie Winkie 79 

Regiment and — all sorts of things. It's quite 
different, you see." 

"Very well," said Wee Willie Winkie, rising. 
"If you're fond of ve big girl, I won't tell any 
one. 1 must go now." 

Coppy rose and escorted his small guest to the 
door, adding: " You're the best of little fellows, 
Winkie. 1 tell you what. In thirty days from 
now you can tell if you like — tell any one you 

Thus the secret of the Brandis-Allardyce en- 
gagement was dependent on a little child's word. 
Coppy, who knew Wee Willie Winkie's idea of 
truth, was at ease, for he felt that he would not 
break promises. Wee Willie Winkie betrayed a 
special and unusual interest in Miss Allardyce, 
and, slov/ly revolving round that embarrassed 
young lady, was used to regard her gravely with 
unwinking eye. He was trying to discover why 
Coppy should have kissed her. She was not 
half so nice as his own mother. On the other 
hand, she was Coppy's property, and would in 
time belong to him. Therefore it behooved him 
to treat her with as much respect as Coppy's big 
sword or shiny pistol. 

The idea that he shared a great secret in com- 
mon with Coppy kept Wee Willie Winkie un- 
usually virtuous for three weekso Then the Old 
Adam broke out, and he made what he called a 

8o Indian Tales 

" camp-fire" at the bottom of the garden. How 
could he have foreseen that the flying sparks 
would have lighted the Colonel's little hayrick 
and consumed a week's store for the horses ? 
Sudden and swift was the punishment — depriva- 
tion of the good-conduct badge and, most sor- 
rowful of all, two days' confinement to barracks 
— the house and veranda — coupled with the with- 
drawal of the light of his father's countenance. 

He took the sentence like the man he strove to 
be, drew himself up with a quivering under-lip, 
saluted, and, once clear of the room, ran to weep 
bitterly in his nursery — called by him " my quar- 
ters." Coppy came in the afternoon and at- 
tempted to console the culprit. 

" I'm under awwest," said Wee Willie Win- 
kie, mournfully, "and I didn't ought to speak to 

Very early the next morning he climbed on to 
the roof of the house — that was not forbidden — 
and beheld Miss Allardyce going for a ride. 

"Where are you going .^" cried Wee Willie 

"Across the river," she answered, and trotted 

Now the cantonment in which the 195th lay 
was bounded on the north by a river — dry in the 
winter. From his earliest years. Wee Willie 
Winkie had been forbidden to go across the 

Wee Willie Winkie gi 

river, and had noted that even Coppy — the al- 
most ahnighty Coppy — had never set foot be- 
yond it. Wee Willie Winkie had once been 
read to, out of a big blue book, the history of the 
Princess and the Goblins— a most wonderful tale 
of a land where the Goblins were always warring 
with the children of men until they were defeated 
by one Curdie. Ever since that date it seemed 
to him that the bare black and purple hills across 
the river were inhabited by Goblins, and, in 
truth, every one had said that there lived the Bad 
Men. Even in his own house the lower halves 
of the windows were covered with green paper 
on account of the Bad Men who might, if allowed 
clear view, fire into peaceful drawing-rooms and 
comfortable bedrooms. Certainly, beyond the 
river, which was the end of all the Earth, lived 
the Bad Men. And here was Major Allardyce's 
big girl, Coppy 's property, preparing to venture 
into their borders! What would Coppy say if 
anything happened to her ? If the Goblins ran 
off with her as they did with Curdie's Princess } 
She must at all hazards be turned back. 

The house was still. Wee Willie Winkie re- 
flected for a moment on the very terrible wrath 
of his father; and then — broke his arrest! It was 
a crime unspeakable. The low sun threw his 
shadow, very large and very black, on the trim 
garden-paths, as he went down to the stables 

82 Indian Tales 

and ordered his pony. It seemed to him in the 
hush of the dawn that all the big world had been 
bidden to stand still and look at Wee Willie 
Winkie guilty of mutiny. The drowsy groom 
handed him his mount, and, since the one great 
sin made all others insignificant. Wee Willie 
Winkie said that he was going to ride over to 
Coppy Sahib, and went out at a foot-pace, step- 
ping on the soft mould of the flower-borders. 

The devastating track of the pony's feet was the 
last misdeed that cut him off from all sympathy 
of Humanity. He turned into the road, leaned 
forward, and rode as fast as the pony could 
put foot to the ground in the direction of the 

But the- liveliest of twelve-two ponies can do 
little against the long canter of a Waler. Miss 
Allardyce was far ahead, had passed through the 
crops, beyond the Police-post, when all the 
guards were asleep, and her mount was scatter- 
ing the pebbles of the river bed as Wee Willie 
Winkie left the cantonment and British India 
behind him. Bowed forward and still flogging, 
Wee Willie Winkie shot into Afghan territory, 
and could just see Miss Allardyce a black speck, 
flickering across the stony plain. The reason of 
her wandering was simple enough. Coppy, in 
a tone of too-hastily-assumed authority, had told 
her over night that she must not ride out by the 

Wee Willie Winkie 83 

river. And she had gone to prove her own spirit 
and teach Coppy a lesson. 

Ahnost at the foot of the inhospitable hills, 
Wee Willie Winkie saw the Waler blunder and 
come down heavily. Miss Allardyce struggled 
clear, but her ankle had been severely twisted, 
and she could not stand. Having thus demon- 
strated her spirit, she wept copiously, and was 
surprised by the apparition of a white, wide-eyed 
child in khaki, on a nearly spent pony. 

" Are you badly, badly hurted ? " shouted Wee 
Willie Winkie, as soon as he was within range. 
" You didn't ought to be here." 

"I don't know," said Miss Allardyce, ruefully, 
ignoring the reproof. "Good gracious, child, 
what ■AXtyon doing here ?" 

"You said you was going acwoss ve wiver," 
panted Wee Willie Winkie, throwing himself off 
his pony. "And nobody — not even Coppy — 
must go acwoss ve wiver, and I came after you 
ever so hard, but you wouldn't stop, and now 
you've hurted yourself, and Coppy will be 
angwy wiv m.e, and — I've bwoken my awwest! 
I've bwoken my awwest! " 

The future Colonel of the 195th sat down and 
sobbed. In spite of the pain in her ankle the girl 
was moved. 

"Have you ridden all the way from canton- 
ments, little man? What for?" 

84 Indian Tales 

"You belonged to Coppy. Coppy told me 
so!" wailed Wee Willie Winkle, disconsolately. 
"I saw him kissing you, and he said he was 
fonder of you van Bell or ve Butcha or me. And 
so I came. You must get up and come back. 
You didn't ought to be here. Vis is a bad place, 
and I've bwoken my awwest." 

"I can't move, Winkie," said Miss Allardyce, 
with a groan. " I've hurt my foot. What shall 
I do.?" 

She showed a readiness to weep afresh, which 
steadied Wee Willie Winkie, who had been 
brought up to believe that tears were the depth 
of unmanliness. Still, when one is as great a 
sinner as Wee Willie Winkie, even a man may be 
permitted to break down. 

"Winkie," said Miss Allardyce, "when you've 
rested a little, ride back and tell them to send 
out something to carry me back in. It hurts 

The child sat still for a little time and Miss 
Allardyce closed her eyes; the pain was nearly 
making her faint. She was roused by Wee 
Willie Winkie tying up the reins on his pony's 
neck and setting it free with a vicious cut of his 
whip that made it whicker. The little animal 
headed toward the cantonments. 

" Oh, Winkie! What are you doing ? " 

" Hush ! " said Wee Willie Winkie. " Vere's a 

Wee Willie Winkle 85 

man coming — one of ve Bad Men. I must stay 
wiv you. My faver says a man must always 
look after a girl. Jack will go home, and ven 
vey'll come and look for us. Vat's why I let him 


Not one man but two or three had appeared 
from behind the rocks of the hills, and the heart 
of Wee Willie Winkie sank within him, for just 
in this manner were the Goblins wont to steal 
out and vex Curdie's soul. Thus had they played 
in Curdie's garden, he had seen the picture, and 
thus had they frightened the Princess's nurse. 
He heard them talking to each other, and recog- 
nized with joy the bastard Pushto that he had 
picked up from one of his father's grooms lately 
dismissed. People who spoke that tongue could 
not be the Bad Men. They were only natives 
after all. 

They came up to the bowlders on which Miss 
Allardyce's horse had blundered. 

Then rose from the rock Wee Willie Winkie, 
child of the Dominant Race, aged six and three- 
quarters, and said briefly and emphatically ''Jaol" 
The pony had crossed the river-bed. 

The men laughed, and laughter from natives 
was the one thing Wee Willie Winkie could not 
tolerate. He asked them what they wanted and 
why they did not depart. Other men with most 
evil faces and crooked-stocked guns crept out of 

86 Indian Tales 

the shadows of the hills, till, soon, Wee Willie 
Winkie was face to face with an audience some 
twenty strong. Miss AUardyce screamed. 

" Who are you ? " said one of the men. 

"1 am the Colonel Sahib's son, and my order 
is that you go at once. You black men are 
frightening the Miss Sahib. One of you must 
run into cantonments and take the news that 
Miss Sahib has hurt herself, and that the Colonel's 
son is here with her." 

" Put our feet into the trap ?" was the laughing 
reply. " Hear this boy's speech! " 

"Say that I sent you — I, the Colonel's son. 
They will give you money." 

" What is the use of this talk ? Take up the 
child and the girl, and we can at least ask for the 
ransom. Ours are the villages on the heights," 
said a voice in the background. 

These were the Bad Men — worse than Goblins — 
and it needed all Wee Willie Winkle's training to 
prevent him from bursting into tears. But he 
felt that to cry before a native, excepting only his 
mother's ayah, would be an infamy greater than 
any mutiny. Moreover, he, as future Colonel of 
the 195th, had that grim regiment at his back. 

"Are you going to carry us away ?" said Wee 
Willie Winkie, very blanched and uncomfortable. 

"Yes, my little Sahib Bahadur," said the tall- 
est of the men, " and eat you afterward." 

Wee Willie IVinkie ' 87 

"That is child's talk," said Wee Willie Win- 
kie. "Men do not eat men." 

A yell of laughter interrupted him, but he went 
on firmly, — " And if you do carry us away, I tell 
you that all my regiment will come up in a day 
and kill you all without leaving one. Who will 
take my message to the Colonel Sahib } " 

Speech in any vernacular — and Wee Willie 
Winkie had a colloquial acquaintance with three 
— was easy to the boy who could not yet man- 
age his "r's" and "th's" aright. 

Another man joined the conference, crying: — 
"O foolish men! What this babe says is true. 
He is the heart's heart of those white troops. 
For the sake of peace let them go both, for if he 
be taken, the regiment will break loose and gut 
the valley. Our villages are in the valley, and 
we shall not escape. That regiment are devils. 
They broke Khoda Yar's breast-bone with kicks 
when he tried to take the rifles; and if we touch 
this child they will fire and rape and plunder for 
a month, till nothing remains. Better to send a 
man back to take the message and get a reward. 
I say that this child is their God, and that they 
will spare none of us, nor our women, if we 
harm him." 

It was Din Mahommed, the dismissed groom 
of the Colonel, who made the diversion, and an 
angry and heated discussion followed. Wee 

88 ' Indian Tales 

Willie Winkie, standing over Miss Allardyce, 
waited tiie upshot. Surely his " wegiment," his 
own " wegiment," would not desert him if they 
knew of his extremity. 

The riderless pony brought the news to the 
195th, though there had been consternation in 
the Colonel's household for an hour before. 
The little beast came in through the parade 
ground in front of the main barracks, where 
the men were settling down to play Spoil-five 
till the afternoon. Devlin, the Color Sergeant of 
E Company, glanced at the empty saddle and 
tumbled through the barrack-rooms, kicking up 
each Room Corporal as he passed. "Up, ye 
beggars! There's something happened to the 
Colonel's son," he shouted. 

" He couldn't fall off! S'elp me, 'e couldn't 
fall off," blubbered a drummer-boy. "Go an' 
hunt acrost the river. He's over there if he's 
anywhere, an' maybe those Pathans have got 
'im. For the love o' Gawd don't look for 'im 
m the nullahs! Let's go over the river." 

" There's sense in Mott yet," said Devlin. " E 
Company, double out to the river — sharp!" 

So E Company, in its shirt-sleeves mainly, 
doubled for the dear life, and in the rear toiled 
the perspiring Sergeant, adjuring it to double yet 

Wee Willie Winkie 89 

faster. The cantonment was alive with the men 
of the 195th hunting for Wee Willie Winkie, and 
the Colonel finally overtook E Company, far too 
exhausted to swear, struggling in the pebbles of 
the river-bed. 

Up the hill under which Wee Willie Winkle's 
Bad Men were discussing the wisdom of carry- 
ing off the child and the girl, a look-out fired two 

"What have 1 said?" shouted Din Mahom- 
med. "There is the warning! The ptclton are 
out already and are coming across the plain! 
Get away! Let us not be seen with the boy! " 

The men waited for an instant, and then, as 
another shot was fired, withdrew into the hills, 
silently as they had appeared. 

"Thewegiment is coming," said Wee Willie 
Winkie, confidently, to Miss Allardyce, "and it's 
all wight. Don't cwy!" 

He needed the advice himself, for ten minutes 
later, when his father came up, he was weeping 
bitterly with his head in Miss Allardyce's lap. 

And the men of the 195th carried him home 
with shouts and rejoicings; and Coppy, who 
had ridden a horse into a lather, met him, and, 
to his intense disgust, kissed him openly in the 
presence of the men. 

But there was balm for his dignity. His 
father assured him that not only would the 

90 Indian Tales 

breaking of arrest be concioned, but that the 
good-conduct badge would be restored as soon 
as his mother could sew it on his blouse-sleeve. 
Miss AUardyce had told the Colonel a story that 
made him proud of his son. 

"She belonged to you, Coppy," said Wee 
Willie Winkie, indicating Miss AUardyce with 
a grimy forefinger. "1 knew she didn't ought 
to go acwoss ve wiver, and 1 knew ve wegiment 
would come to me if I sent Jack home." 

"You're a hero, Winkie," said Coppy — "a 
pukka hero ! " 

"I don't know what vat means," said Wea 
WiUie Winkie, "but you mustn't call me Win- 
kie any no more. I'm Percival Will'am Wil- 

And in this manner did Wee Willie Winkie 
enter into his manhood. 


It was not in tlie open fight 

We threw away the sword, 
But in the lonely watching 

In the darkness by the ford. 
The waters lapped, the night-wind blew. 
Full-armed the Fear was born and grew, 
And we were flying ere we knew 

From panic in the night. 

— Beo7ii Bar. 

SOME people hold that an English Cavalry 
regiment cannot run. This is a mistake. I 
have seen four hundred and thirty-seven sabres 
flying over the face of the country in abject ter- 
ror — have seen the best Regiment that ever drev^^ 
bridle wiped off the Army List for the space of 
two hours. If you repeat this tale to the White 
Hussars they will, in all probability, treat you 
severely. They are not proud of the incident. 

You may know the White Hussars by their 
"side." which is greater than that of all the Cav- 
alry Regiments on the roster. If this is not a 
sufficient mark, you may know them by their old 
brandy. It has been sixty years in the Mess and 
is worth going far to taste. Ask for the ' Mc- 


92 Indian Tales 

Gaire" old brandy, and see that you get it. If 
the Mess Sergeant thinks that you are uneducated, 
and that the genuine article will be lost on you, 
he will treat you accordingly. He is a good man. 
But, when you are at Mess, you must never talk 
to your hosts about forced marches or long-dis- 
tance rides. The Mess are very sensitive; and, if 
they think that you are laughing at them, will tell 
you so. 

As the White Hussars say, it was all the Colo- 
nel's fault. He was a new man, and he ought 
never to have taken the Command. He said that 
the Regiment was not smart enough. This to 
the White Hussars, who knew that they could 
walk round any Horse and through any Guns, 
and over any Foot on the face of the earth ! That 
insult was the first cause of offence. 

Then the Colonel cast the Drum-Horse — the 
Drum-Horse of the White Hussars! Perhaps 
you do not see what an unspeakable crime he 
had committed. I will try to make it clear. The 
soul of the Regiment lives in the Drum-Horse 
who carries the silver kettle-drums. He is nearly 
always a big piebald Waler. That is a point of 
honor; and a Regiment will spend anything you 
please on a piebald. He is beyond the ordinary 
laws of casting. His work is very light, and he 
only manoeuvres at a footpace. Wherefore, so 
long as he can step out and look handsome, his 

The Rout of the White Hussars 93 

well-being is assured. He knows more about tlie 
Regiment than the Adjutant, and could not make 
a mistake if he tried. 

The Drum-Horse of the White Hussars was 
only eighteen years old, and perfectly equal to 
his duties. He had at least six years' more work 
in him, and carried himself with all the pomp 
and dignity of a Drum-Major of the Guards. 
The Regiment had paid Rs. 1200 for him. 

But the Colonel said that he must go, and he 
was cast in due form and replaced by a washy, 
bay beast, as ugly as a mule, with a ewe-neck, 
rat-tail, and cow-hocks. The Drummer detested 
that animal, and the best of the Band-horses put 
back their ears and showed the whites of their 
eyes at the very sight of him. They knew him 
for an upstart and no gentleman. I fancy that 
the Colonel's ideas of smartness extended to the 
Band, and that he wanted to make it take part in 
the regular parade movements. A Cavalry Band 
is a sacred thing. It only turns out for Com- 
manding Officers' parades, and the Band Master 
is one degree more important than the Colonel. 
He is a High Priest and the "Keel Row" is his 
holy song. The "Keel Row" is the Cavalry 
Trot; and the man who has never heard that 
tune rising, high and shrill, above the rattle of 
the Regiment going past the saluting-base, has 
something yet to hear and understand. 

94 Mdian Tales 

When the Colonel cast the Drum-Horse of the 
White Hussars, there was nearly a mutiny. 

The officers were angry, the Regiment were 
furious, and the Bandsmen swore — lii<e troopers. 
The Drum-Horse was going to be put up to 
auction — public auction — to be bought, perhaps, 
by a Parsee and put into a cart! It was worse 
than exposing the inner life of the Regiment 
to the whole world, or selling the Mess Plate to a 
Jew — a Black jew. 

The Colonel was a mean man and a bully. He 
knew what the Regiment thought about his 
action; and, when the troopers offered to buy 
the Drum-Horse, he said that their offer was 
mutinous and forbidden by the Regulations. 

But one of the Subalterns — Hogan-Yale, an 
Irishman — bought the Drum-Horse for Rs, 1 60 at 
the sale, and the Colonel was wroth. Yale pro- 
fessed repentance — he was unnaturally submis- 
sive — and said that, as he had only made the pur- 
chase to save the horse from possible ill-treat- 
ment and starvation, he would now shoot him 
and end the business. This appeared to soothe 
the Colonel, for he wanted the Drum-Horse dis- 
posed of. He felt that he had made a mistake, 
and could not of course acknowledge it. Mean- 
time, the presence of the Drum-Horse was an 
annoyance to him. 

Yale took to himself a glass of the old brandy. 

The Rout of the White Hussars 95 

three cheroots, and his friend Martyn; and they 
all left the Mess together, Yale and Martyn con-, 
ferred for two hours in Yale's quarters; but only 
the bull-terrier who keeps watch over Yale"s 
boot-trees knows what they said. A horse, 
hooded and sheeted to his ears, left Yale's stables 
and was taken, very unwillingly, into the Civil 
Lines. Yale's groom went with him. Two 
men broke into the Regimental Theatre and took 
several paint-pots and some large scenery- 
brushes. Then night fell over the Cantonments, 
and there was a noise as of a horse kicking his 
loose-box to pieces in Yale's stables. Yale had a 
big, old, white Waler trap-horse. 

The next day was a Thursday, and the men, 
hearing that Yale was going to shoot the Drum- 
Horse in the evening, determined to give the 
beast a regular regimental funeral — a finer one 
than they v/ould have given the Colonel had he 
died just then. They got a bullock-cart and some 
sacking, and mounds and mounds of roses, and 
the body, under sacking, was carried out to the 
place where the anthrax cases were cremated; 
two-thirds of the Regiment following. There 
was no Band, but they all sang "The Place 
where the old Horse died " as something respect- 
ful and appropriate to the occasion. When the 
corpse was dumped into the grave and the men 
began throwing down armfuls of roses to cover 

9^ Indian Tales 

it, the Farrier-Sergeant ripped out an oatli and 
said aloud, "Why, it ain't the Drum-Horse any 
more than it's me! " The Troop Sergeant-Majors 
asked him whether he had left his head in the 
Canteen. The Farrier-Sergeant said that he knew 
the Drum-Horse's feet as well as he knew his 
own; but he was silenced when he saw the 
regimental number burned in on the poor stiff, up- 
turned near-fore. 

Thus was the Drum-Horse of the White Hus- 
sars buried; the Farrier-Sergeant grumbling. 
The sacking that covered the corpse was smeared 
in places with black paint; and the Farrier-Ser- 
geant drew attention to this fact. But the Troop- 
Sergeant-Major of E Troop kicked him severely 
on the shin, and told him that he was undoubt- 
edly drunk. 

On the Monday following the burial, the 
Colonel sought revenge on the White Hussars. 
Unfortunately, being at that time temporarily in 
Command of the Station, he ordered a Brigade 
field-day. He said that he wished to make the 
Regiment "sweat for their damned insolence," 
and he carried out his notion thoroughly. That 
Monday was one of the hardest days in the mem- 
ory of the White Hussars. They were thrown 
against a skeleton-enemy, and pushed forward, 
and withdrawn, and dismounted, and "scientific- 
ally handled " in every possible fashion over 

The Rout of the White Hussars 97 

dusty country, till they sweated profusely. Their 
only amusement came late in the day when they 
fell upon the battery of Horse Artillery and 
chased it for two miles. This was a personal 
question, and most of the troopers had money on 
the event; the Gunners saying openly that they 
had the legs of the White Hussars. They were 
wrong. A march-past concluded the campaign, 
and when the Regiment got back to their Lines, 
the men were coated with dirt from spur to chin- 

The White Hussars have one great and peculiar 
privilege. They won it at Fontenoy, 1 think. 

Many Regiments possess special rights such as 
wearing collars with undress uniform, or a bow 
of riband between the shoulders, or red and 
white roses in their helmets on certain days of 
the year. Some rights are connected with regi- 
mental saints, and some with regimental suc- 
cesses. All are valued highly; but none so 
highly as the right of the White Hussars to have 
the Band playing when their horses are being 
watered in the Lines. Only one tune is played, 
and that tune never varies. I don't know its real 
name, but the White Hussars call it, "Take me 
to London again." It sounds verv pretty. The 
Regiment would sooner be struck off the roster 
than forego their distinction. 

After the "dismiss" was sounded, the officers 

98 Indian Tales 

rode off home to prepare for stables; and the 
men filed into the lines riding easy. That is to 
say, they opened their tight buttons, shifted their 
helmets, and began to joke or to swear as the 
humor took them; the more careful slipping off 
and easing girths and curbs. A good trooper 
values his mount exactly as much as he values 
himself, and believes, or should believe, that the 
two together are irresistible where women or 
men, girls or guns, are concerned. 

Then the Orderly-Officer gave the order, 
"Water horses," and the Regiment loafed off to 
the squadron-troughs which were in rear of the 
stables and between these and the barracks. 
There were four huge troughs, one for each 
squadron, arranged en echelon, so that the whole 
Regiment could water in ten minutes if it liked. 
But it lingered for seventeen, as a rule, while the 
Band played. 

The Band struck up as the squadrons filed off to 
the troughs, and the men slipped their feet out of 
the stirrups and chaffed each other. The sun was 
just setting in a big, hot bed of red cloud, and 
the road to the Civil Lines seemed to run straight 
into the sun's eye. There was a little dot on the 
road. It grew and grew till it showed as a horse, 
with a sort of gridiron-thing on his back. The 
red cloud glared through the bars of the gridiron. 
Some of the troopers shaded their eyes with their 

The Rout of the White Hussars 99 

hands and said — "What the mischief 'as that 
there 'orse got on 'im ? " 

In another minute they heard a neigh that every 
soul — horse and man — in the Regiment knew, 
and saw, heading straight toward the Band, the 
dead Drum-Horse of the White Hussars! 

On his withers banged and bumped the kettle- 
drums draped in crape, and on his back, very 
stiff and soldierly, sat a bareheaded skeleton. 

The Band stopped playing, and, for a moment, 
there was a hush. 

Then some one in E Troop — men said it was 
the Troop-Sergeant-Major — swung his horse 
round and yelled. No one can account exactly 
for what happened afterward; but it seems that, 
at least, one man in each troop set an example of 
panic, and the rest followed like sheep. The 
horses that had barely put their muzzles into the 
troughs reared and capered; but as soon as the 
Band broke, which it did when the ghost of the 
Drum-Horse was about a furlong distant, all 
hooves followed suit, and the clatter of the 
stampede — quite different from the orderly throb 
and roar of a movement on parade, or the rough 
horse-play of watering in camp — made them only 
more terrified. They felt that the men on their 
backs were afraid of something. When horses 
once know that, all is over except the butchery. 

Troop after troop turned from the troughs and 

lOO Indian Tales 

ran — anywhere and everywhere — like spilled 
quicksilver. It was a most extraordinary spec- 
tacle, for men and horses were in all stages of 
easiness, and the carbine-buckets flopping against 
their sides urged the horses on. Men were shout- 
ing and cursing, and trying to pull clear of the Band 
which was being chased by the Drum-Horse 
whose rider had fallen forward and seemed to be 
spurring for a wager. 

The Colonel had gone over to the Mess for a 
drink. Most of the officers were with him, and 
the Subaltern of the Day was preparing to go 
down to the lines, and receive the watering re- 
ports from the Troop-Sergeant-Majors. When 
"Take me to London again" stopped, after 
twenty bars, every one in the Mess said, " What 
on earth has happened } " A minute later, they 
heard unmilitary noises, and saw, far across the 
plain, the White Hussars scattered, and broken, 
and flying. 

The Colonel was speechless with rage, for he 
thought that the Regiment had risen against him 
or was unanimously drunk. The Band, a dis- 
organized mob, tore past, and at its heels labored 
the Drum-Horse — the dead and buried Drum- 
Horse — with the jolting, clattering skeleton. Ho- 
gan-Yale whispered softly to Martyn — " No wire 
will stand that treatment," and the Band, which 
bad doubled like a hare, came back again. But 

The Rout of the White Hussars loi 

the rest of the Regiment was gone, was rioting 
all over the Province, for the dusk had shut in 
and each man was howling to his neighbor that 
the Drum-Horse was on his flanl<:. Troop-horses 
are far too tenderly treated as a rule. They can, 
on emergencies, do a great deal, even with seven- 
teen stone on their backs. As the troopers found 

How long this panic lasted I cannot say. I be- 
lieve that when the moon rose the men saw they 
had nothing to fear, and, by twos and threes and 
half-troops, crept back into Cantonments very 
much ashamed of themselves. Meantime, the 
Drum-Horse, disgusted at his treatment by old 
friends, pulled up, wheeled round, and trotted 
up to the Mess veranda-steps for bread. No 
one liked to run; but no one cared to go forward 
till the Colonel made a movement and laid hold 
of the skeleton's foot. The Band had halted 
some distance away, and now came back slowly. 
The Colonel called it, individually and collectively, 
every evil name that occurred to him at the time; 
for he had set his hand on the bosom of the 
Drum-Horse and found flesh and blood. Then 
he beat the kettle-drums with his clenched fist, 
and discovered that they were but made of 
silvered paper and bamboo. Next, still swear- 
ing, he tried to drag the skeleton out of the sad- 
dlev but found that it had been wired into the 

I02 Indian Tales 

cantle. The sight of the Colonel, with his arms 
round the skeleton's pelvis and his knee in the 
old Drum-Horse's stomach, was striking. Not 
to say amusing. He worried the thing off in a 
minute or two, and threw it down on the ground, 
saying to the Band—" Here, you curs, that's 
what you're afraid of." The skeleton did not 
look pretty in the twilight. The Band-Sergeant 
seemed to recognize it, for he began to chuckle 
and choke. " Shall I take it away, sir ? " said the 
Band-Sergeant. " Yes," said the Colonel, "take 
it to Hell, and ride there yourselves! " 

The Band-Sergeant saluted, hoisted the skeleton 
across his saddle-bow, and led off to the stables. 
Then the Colonel began to make inquiries for the 
rest of the Regiment, and the language he used 
was wonderful. He would disband the Regi- 
ment — he would court-martial every soul in it — 
he would not command such a set of rabble, and 
so on, and so on. . As the men dropped in, his 
language grew wilder, until at last it exceeded 
the utmost limits of free speech allowed even to 
a Colonel of Horse. 

Martyn took Hogan-Yale aside and suggested 
compulsory retirement from the Service as a 
necessity when all was discovered. Martyn was 
the weaker man of the two. Hogan-Yale put up 
his eyebrows and remarked, firstly, that he was 
the son of a Lord, and, secondly, that he was as 

The Rout of the White Hussars 103 

innocent as the babe unborn of the theatrical 
resurrection of the Drum-Horse. 

"My instructions," said Yale, with a singu- 
larly sweet smile, "were that the Drum-Horse 
should be sent back as impressively as possible. 
1 ask you, am I responsible if a mule-headed 
friend sends him back in such a manner as to dis- 
turb the peace of mind of a regiment of Her 
Majesty's Cavalry ?" 

Marty n said, "You are a great man, and will 
in time become a General; but I'd give my chance 
of a troop to be safe out of this affair." 

Providence saved Martyn and Hogan-Yale. 
The Second-in-Command led the Colonel away 
to the little curtained alcove wherein the Sub- 
alterns of the White Hussars were accustomed to 
play poker of nights; and there, after many oaths 
on the Colonel's part, they talked together in low 
tones. I fancy that the Second-in-Command 
must have represented the scare as the work of 
some trooper whom it would be hopeless to de- 
tect; and 1 know that he dwelt upon the sin and 
the shame of making a public laughing-stock of 
the scare. 

"They will call us," said the Second-in-Com- 
mand, who had really a fine imagination — "they 
will call us the * Fly-by-Nights ' ; they will call us 
the ' Ghost Hunters '; they will nickname us from 
one end of the Army List to the other. All the 

104 Indian Tales 

explanation in the world won't make outsiders 
understand that the officers were away when the 
panic began. For the honor of the Regiment 
and for your own sake keep this thing quiet." 

The Colonel was so exhausted with anger that 
soothing him down was not so difficult as might 
be imagined. He was made to see, gently and 
by degrees, that it was obviously impossible to 
court-martial the whole Regiment and equally 
impossible to proceed against any subaltern who, 
in his belief, had any concern in the hoax. 

"But the beast's alive! He's never been shot 
at all!" shouted the Colonel, "it's tlat flagrant 
disobedience! I've known a man broke for less 
— dam sight less. They're mocking me, I tell 
you, Mutman! They're mocking me! " 

Once more, the Second-in-Command set him- 
self to soothe the Colonel, and wrestled with him 
for half an hour. At the end of that time, the 
Regimental Sergeant-Major reported himself. The 
situation was rather novel to him; but he was 
not a man to be put out by circumstances. He 
saluted and said, "Regiment all come back, Sir." 
Then, to propitiate the Colonel — "An' none of 
the 'orses any the worse, Sir." 

The Colonel only snorted and answered — 
" You'd better tuck the men into their cots, then, 
and see that they don't wake up and cry in the 
night." The Sergeant withdrew. 

The Rout of the White Hussars 105 

His little stroke of humor pleased the Colonel, 
and, further, he felt slightly ashamed of the lan- 
guage he had been using. The Second-in-Com- 
mand worried him again, and the two sat talking 
far into the night. 

Next day but one, there was a Commanding 
Officer's parade, and the Colonel harangued the 
White Hussars vigorously. The pith of his 
speech was that, since the Drum-Horse in his old 
age had proved himself capable of cutting up the 
whole Regiment, he should return to his post of 
pride at the head of the Band, but the Regiment 
were a set of ruffians with bad consciences. 

The White Hussars shouted, and threw every- 
thing movable about them into the air, and 
when the parade was over, they cheered the Col- 
onel till they couldn't speak. No cheers were 
put up for Lieutenant Hogan-Yale, who smiled 
very sweetly in the background. 

Said the Second-in-Command to the Colonel, 
unofficially — 

"These little things ensure popularity, and do 
not the least affect discipline." 

" But I went back on my word," said the Col- 

"Never mind," said the Second-in-Command. 
"The White Hussars will follow you anywhere 
from to-day. Regiments are just like women. 
They will do anything for trinketry." 

io6 Indian Tales 

A week later, Hogan-Yale received an extraor- 
dinary letter from some one who signed himself 
"Secretary, Charity and Zeal, 3709, E. C," 
and asked for " the return of our skeleton which 
we have reason to believe is in your possession," 

"Who the deuce is this lunatic who trades in 
bones?" said Hogan-Yale. 

"Beg your pardon, Sir," said the Band-Ser- 
geant, "but the skeleton is with me, an' I'll re- 
turn it if you'll pay the carriage into the Civil 
Lines. There's a coffin with it, Sir." 

Hogan-Yale smiled and handed two rupees to 
the Band-Sergeant, saying, "Write the date on 
the skull, will you?" 

If you doubt this story, and know where to go, 
you can see the date on the skeleton. But don't 
mention the matter to the White Hussars. 

I happened to know something about it, be- 
cause I prepared the Drum-Horse for his resur- 
rection. He did not take kindly to the skeleton 
at all. 


Narrow as the womb, deep as the Pit, and dark as the heart 
of a man. — Sotithal Aliiier's Proverb. 

^^ A WEAVER went out to reap but stayed to 
t\ unravel the corn-stalks. Ha! Ha! Ha! 
Is there any sense in a weaver?" 

Janki Meah glared at Kundoo, but, as Janki 
Meah was blind, Kundoo was not impressed. 
He had come to argue with Janki Meah, and, if 
chance favored, to make love to the old man's 
pretty young wife. 

This was Kundoo's grievance, and he spoke in 
the name of all the five men who, with Janki 
Meah, composed the gang in Number Seven gal- 
lery of Twenty-Two. Janki Meah had been blind 
for the thirty years during which he had served 
the Jimahari Collieries with pick and crowbar. 
All through those thirty years he had regularly, 
every morning before going down, drawn from 
the overseer his allowance of lamp-oil — just as if 
he had been an eyed miner. What Kundoo's 
gang resented, as hundreds of gangs had re- 
sented before, was Janki Meah's selfishness. He 
would not add the oil to the common stock of 
his gang, but would save and sell it. 

io8 Indiajt Tales 

"I knew these workings before you were 
born," Janki Meah used to reply: " I don't want 
the light to get my coal out by, and I am not go- 
ing to help you. The oil is mine, and 1 intend 
to keep it." 

A strange man in many ways was Janki Meah, 
the white-haired, hot tempered, sightless weaver 
who had turned pitman. All day long — except 
on Sundays and Mondays when he was usually 
drunk — he worked in the Twenty-Two shaft of 
the Jimahari Colliery as cleverly as a man with 
all the senses. At evening he went up in the 
great steam-hauled cage to the pit-bank, and 
there called for his pony — a rusty, coal-dusty 
beast, nearly as old as Janki Meah. The pony 
would come to his side, and Janki Meah would 
clamber on to its back and be taken at cnce to 
the plot of land which he, like the other miners, 
received from the Jimahari Company. The pony 
knew that place, and when, after six years, the 
Company changed all the allotments to prevent 
the miners from acquiring proprietary rights, 
Janki Meah represented, with tears in his eyes, 
that were his holdings shifted, he would never 
be able to fmd his way to the new one. "My 
horse only knows that place," pleaded Janki 
Meah, and so he was allowed to keep his land. 

On the strength of this concession and his ac- 
cumulated oil-savings, Janki Meah took a second 

At Twentv-Two 109 

wife — a girl of the Jolaha main stock of the 
Meahs, and singularly beautiful. Janki Meah 
could not see her beauty; wherefore he took her 
on trust, and forbade her to go down the pit. 
He had not worked for thirty years in the dark 
without knowing that the pit was no place for 
pretty women. He loaded her with ornaments 
— not brass or pewter, but real silver ones — and 
she rewarded him by flirting outrageously with 
Kundoo of Number Seven gallery gang. Kundoo 
was really the gang-head, but Janki Meah insisted 
upon all the work being entered in his own 
name, and chose the men that he worked with. 
Custom — stronger even than the Jimahari Com- 
pany — dictated that Janki, by right of his years, 
should manage these things, and should, also, 
work despite his blindness. In Indian mines 
where they cut into the solid coal with the pick 
and clear it out from floor to ceiling, he could 
come to no great harm. At Home, where they 
undercut the coal and bring it down in crashing 
avalanches from the roof, he would never have 
been allowed to set foot in a pit. He was not a 
popular man, because of his oil-savings ; but all 
the gangs admitted that Janki knew all the A7?^r/5, 
or workings, that had ever been sunk or worked 
since the Jimahari Company first started oper- 
ations on the Tarachunda fields. 

Pretty little Unda only knew that her old hus- 

no Indian Tales 

band was a fool who could be managed. She 
took no interest in the collieries except in so far 
as they swallowed up Kundoo five days out of 
the seven, and covered him with coal-dust. 
Kundoo was a great workman, and did his best 
not to get drunk, because, when he had saved 
forty rupees, Unda was to steal everything that 
she could find in Janki's house and run with 
Kundoo to a land where there were no mines, 
and every one kept three fat bullocks and a 
milch-buffalo. While this scheme ripened it was 
his custom to drop in upon Janki and worry him 
about the oil savings. Unda sat in a corner and 
nodded approval. On the night when Kundoo 
had quoted that objectionable proverb about 
weavers, Janki grew angry. 

"Listen, you pig," said he, "blind I am, and 
old I am, but, before ever you were born, I was 
grey among the coal. Even in the days when 
the Twenty-Two khad was unsunk and there 
were not two thousand men here, I was known 
to have all knowledge of the pits. What khad 
is there that 1 do not know, from the bottom of 
the shaft to the end of the last drive ? Is it the 
Baromba khad, the oldest, or the Twenty-Two 
where Tibu's gallery runs up to Number Five?" 

"Hear the old fool talk!" said Kundoo, nod- 
ding to Unda. "No gallery of Twenty-Two 
will cut into Five before the end of the Rains. 

At Jwenty-'Iwo i ii 

We have a month's solid coal before us. The 
Babuji says so." 

"Babuji! Pigji! Dogji! What do these fat 
slugs from Calcutta know ? He draws and draws 
and draws, and talks and talks and talks, and his 
maps are all wrong. I, Janki, know that this is 
so. When a man has been shut up in the dark 
for thirty years, God gives him knowledge. The 
old gallery that Tibu's gang made is not six feet 
from Number Five." 

"Without doubt God gives the blind knowl- 
edge," said Kundoo, with a look at Unda. " Let 
it be as you say. I, for my part, do not know 
where lies the gallery of Tibu's gang, but / am 
not a withered monkey who needs oil to grease 
his joints with." 

Kundoo swung out of the hut laughing, and 
Unda giggled. Janki turned his sightless eyes 
toward his wife and swore. *'l have land, and 
1 have sold a great deal of lamp-oil," mused 
Janki; "but I was a fool to marry this child." 

A week later the Rains set in with a venge- 
ance, and the gangs paddled about in coal-slush 
at the pit-banks. Then the big mine-pumps 
were made ready, and the Manager of the Col- 
liery ploughed through the wet toward the Tara- 
chunda River swelling between its soppy banks. 
"Lord send that this beastly beck doesn't mis- 
behave," said the Manager, piously, and he wertf 

112 Indian Tales 

to take counsel with his Assistant about the 

But the Tarachunda misbehaved very much in- 
deed. After a fall of three inches of rain in an 
hour it was obliged to do something. It topped 
its bank and joined the flood water that was 
hemmed between two low hills just where the 
embankment of the Colliery main line crossed. 
When a large part of a rain-fed river, and a few 
acres of flood-water, made a dead set for a nine- 
foot culvert, the culvert may spout its finest, but 
the water cannot all get out. The Manager 
pranced upon one leg with excitement, and his 
language was improper. 

He had reason to swear, because he knew that 
one inch of water on land meant a pressure of 
one hundred tons to the acre; and here were 
about five feet of water forming, behind the rail- 
way embankment, over the shallower workings 
of Twenty-Two. You must understand that, in a 
coal-mine, the coal nearest the surface is worked 
first from the central shaft. That is to say, the 
miners may clear out the stuff to within ten, 
twenty, or thirty feet of the surface, and, when 
all is worked out, leave only a skin of earth up- 
held by some few pillars of coal. In a deep mine 
where they know that they have any amount of 
material at hand, men prefer to get all their min- 
eral out at one shaft, rather than make a number 

At Twenty-Two 113 

of little holes to tap the comparatively unimpor- 
tant surface-coal. 

And the Manager watched the flood. 

The culvert spouted a nine-foot gush; but the 
water still formed, and word was sent to clear 
the men out of Twenty-Two, The cages came 
up crammed and crammed again with the men 
nearest the pit-eye, as they call the place where 
you can see daylight from the bottom of the 
m.ain shaft. All away and away up the long 
black galleries the flare-lamps were winking and 
dancing like so many fireflies, and the men and 
the women waited for the clanking, rattling, 
thundering cages to come down and fly up again. 
But the outworkings were very far off, and word 
could not be passed quickly, though the heads 
of the gangs and the Assistant shouted and swore 
and tramped and stumbled. The Manager kept 
one eye on the great troubled pool behind the 
embankment, and prayed that the culvert would 
give way and let the water through in time. 
With the other eye he watched the cages come 
up and saw the headmen counting the roll of the 
gangs. With all his heart and soul he swore 
at the winder who controlled the iron drum that 
wound up the wire rope on which hung the 

In a little time there was a down-draw in the 
water behind the embankment — a sucking whirl- 

114 Indian Tales 

pool, all yellow and yeasty. The water had 
smashed through the skin of the earth and was 
pouring into the old shallow workings of Twenty- 

Deep down below, a rush of black water 
caught the last gang waiting for the cage, and as 
they clambered in, the whirl was about their 
waists. The cage reached the pit-bank, and the 
Manager called the roll. The gangs were all 
safe except Gang Janki, Gang Mogul, and Gang 
Rahim, eighteen men, with perhaps ten basket- 
women who loaded the coal into the little iron 
carriages that ran on the tramways of the main 
galleries. These gangs were in the out-work- 
ings, three-quarters of a mile away, on the ex- 
treme fringe of the mine. Once more the cage 
went down, but with only two English men in 
it, and dropped into a swirling, roaring current 
that had almost touched the roof of some of the 
lower side-galleries. One of the wooden balks 
with which they had propped the old work- 
ings shot past on the current, just missing the 

" If we don't want our ribs knocked out, we'd 
better go," said the Manager. "We can't even 
save the Company's props." 

The cage drew out of the water with a splash, 
and a few minutes later, it was officially reported 
that there were at least ten feet of water in the 

At Twenty-Two 115 

pit's eye. Now ten feet of water there meant 
that all other places in the mine were flooded ex- 
cept such galleries as were more than ten feet 
above the level of the bottom of the shaft. The 
deep workings would be full, the main galleries 
would be full, but in the high workings reached 
by inclines from the main roads, there would be 
a certain amount of air cut off, so to speak, by 
the water and squeezed up by it. The little 
science-primers explain how water behaves when 
you pour it down test-tubes. The Hooding of 
Twenty-Two was an illustration on a large 

"By the Holy Grove, what has happened to 
the air!" It was a Sonthal gangman of Gang 
Mogul in Number Nine gallery, and he was driv- 
ing a six-foot way through the coal. Then 
there was a rush from the other galleries, and 
Gang Janki and Gang Rahim stumbled up with 
their basket-women. 

"Water has come in the mine," they said, 
" and there is no way of getting out." 

" 1 went down," said Janki — " down the slope 
of my gallery, and I felt the water." 

"There has been no water in the cutting in 
our time," clamored the women. "Why can- 
not we go away ?" 

ii6 Indian Tales 

"Be silent!" said Janki. "Long ago, when 
my father was here, water came to Ten — no, 
Eleven — cutting, and there was great trouble. 
Let us get away to where the air is better." 

The three gangs and the basket-women left 
Number Nine gallery and went further up Num- 
ber Sixteen. At one turn of the road they could 
see the pitchy black water lapping on the coal. 
It had touched the roof of a gallery that they 
knew well — a gallery where they used to smoke 
their hiiqas and manage their flirtations. Seeing 
this, they called aloud upon their Gods, and the 
Mehas, who are thrice bastered Muhammadans, 
strove to recollect the name of the Prophet. 
They came to a great open square whence nearly 
all the coal had been extracted. It was the end 
of the out-workings, and the end of the mine. 

Far away down the gallery a small pumping- 
e'lgine, used for keeping dry a deep working and 
fed with steam from above, was throbbing faith- 
fully. They heard it cease. 

"They have cut off the steam," said Kundoo, 
hopefully. "They have given the order to use 
a!r the steam for the pit-bank pumps. They will 
clear out the water." 

"If the water has reached the smoking-gal- 
lery," said Janki, "all the Company's pumps can 
do-nothing for three days." 

"It is very hot," moaned Jasoda, the Meah 

At Twenty-Two 117 

basket-woman. "There is a very bad air here 
because of the lamps." 

"Put them out," said Janki; "why do you 
want lamps } " The lamps were put out and the 
company sat still in the utter dark. Somebody 
rose quietly and began walking over the coals. 
It was Janki, who was touching the walls with 
his hands. "Where is the ledge.?" he mur- 
mured to himself. 

" Sit, sit! " said Kundoo. " If we die, we die. 
The air is very bad." 

But Janki still stumbled and crept and tapped 
with his pick upon the walls. The women rose 
to their feet. 

"Stay all where you are. Without the lamps 
you cannot see, and 1 — 1 am always seeing," said 
Janki. Then he paused, and called out: "Oh, 
you who have been in the cutting more than ten 
years, what is the name of this open place ? I 
am an old man and I have forgotten." 

"Bullia's Room," answered the Sonthal, who 
had complained of the vileness of the air. 

" Again," said Janki, 

" Bullia's Room." 

"Then I have found it," said Janki. "The 
name only had slipped my memory. Tibu's 
gang's gallery is here." 

"A lie," said Kundoo. "There have been no 
galleries in this place since my day." 

ii8 Indian Tales 

"Three paces was the depth of the ledge," 
muttered Janki, without heeding — "and — oh, my 
poor bones! — I have found it! It is here, up this 
ledge. Come all you, one by one, to the place of 
my voice, and I will count you." 

There was a rush in the dark, and Janki felt the 
first man's face hit his knees as the Sonthal 
scrambled up the ledge. 

"Who.?" cried Janki. 

"I, Sunua Manji." 

" Sit you down," said Janki. " Who next ? " 

One by one the women and the men crawled 
up the ledge which ran along one side of " Bul- 
lia's Room." Degraded Muhammadan, pig-eat- 
ing Musahr and wild Sonthal, Janki ran his hand 
over them all. 

"Now follow after," said he, "catching hold 
of my heel, and the women catching the men's 
clothes." He did not ask whether the men had 
brought their picks with them. A miner, black 
or white, does not drop his pick. One by one, 
Janki leading, they crept into the old gallery — a 
six-foot way with a scant four feet from thill to 

"The air is better here," said Jasoda. They 
could hear her heart beating in thick, sick bumps. 

"Slowly, slowly," said Janki. "I am an old 
man, and I forget many things. This is Tibu's 
gallery, but where are the four bricks where they 

At Twenty-Two 119 

used to put their hiiqa fire on when the Sahibs 
never saw ? Slowly, slowly, O you people be- 

They heard his hands disturbing the small coal 
on the floor of the gallery and then a dull sound. 
"This is one unbaked brick, and this is another 
and another. Kundoo is a young man — let him 
come forward. Put a knee upon this brick and 
strike here. When Tibu's gang were at dinner 
on the last day before the good coal ended, they 
heard the men of Five on the other side, and Five 
worked their gallery two Sundays later — or it 
may have been one. Strike there, Kundoo, but 
give me room to go back." 

Kundoo, doubting, drove the pick, but the first 
soft crush of the coal was a call to him. He was 
fighting for his life and for Unda — pretty little 
Unda with rings on all her toes — for Unda and 
the forty rupees. The women sang the Song of 
the Pick — the terrible, slow, swinging melody 
with the muttered chorus that repeats the sliding 
of the loosened coal, and, to each cadence, 
Kundoo smote in the black dark. When he 
could do no more, Sunua Manji took the pick, 
and struck for his life and his wife, and his vil- 
lage beyond the blue hills over the Tarachunda 
River. An hour the men worked, and then the 
women cleared away the coal. 

"It is farther than I thought," said Janki. 

1 20 Indian Tales 

"The air is very bad; but strike, Kundoo, strike 

For the fifth time Kundoo took up the pick 
as the Sonthal crawled back. The song had 
scarcely recommenced when it was broken by a 
yell from Kundoo that echoed down the gallery: 
"Par htta! Par hiia! We are through, we 
are through!" The imprisoned air in the mine 
shot through the opening, and the women at the 
far end of the gallery heard the water rush 
through the pillars of " Bullia's Room" and roar 
against the ledge. Having fulfilled the law under 
which it worked, it rose no farther. The women 
screamed and pressed forward. " The water has 
come — we shall be killed! Let us go." 

Kundoo crawled through the gap and found 
himself in a propped gallery by the simple proc- 
ess of hitting his head against a beam. 

" Do 1 know the pits or do I not.^" chuckled 
Janki. "This is the Number Five; go you out 
slowly, giving me your names. Ho! Rahim, 
count your gang! Now let us go forward, each 
catching hold of the other as before." 

They formed a line in the darkness and Janki 
led them — for a pit-man in a strange pit is only 
one degree less liable to err than an ordinary 
mortal underground for the first time. At last 
they saw a flare-lamp, and Gangs Janki, Mogul, 
and Rahim of Twenty-Two stumbled dazed into 

At Twenty-Two 121 

the glare of the draught-furnace at the bottom 
of Five; Janki feeling his way and the rest be- 

"Water has come into Twenty-Two. God 
knows where are the others. I have brought 
these men from Tibu's gallery in our cutting; 
making connection through the north side of 
the gallery. Take us to the cage," said Janki 

At the pit-bank of Twenty-Two, some thou- 
sand people clamored and wept and shouted. 
One hundred men — one thousand men — had 
been drowned in the cutting. They would all 
go to their homes to-morrow. Where were 
their men } Little Unda, her cloth drenched with 
the rain, stood at the pit-mouth calling down the 
shaft for Kundoo. They had swung the cages 
clear of the mouth, and her only answer was the 
murmur of the flood in the pit's eye two hundred 
and sixty feet below. 

"Look after that woman! She'll chuck her- 
self down the shaft in a minute," shouted the 

But he need not have troubled; Unda v/ac 
afraid of Death. She wanted Kundoo. The, 
Assistant was watching the flood and seeing 
how far he could wade into it. There was a luU 

122 . Indian Talei> 

in the water, and the whirlpool had slackened. 
The mine was full, and the people at the pit- 
bank howled. 

"My faith, we shall be lucky if we have five 
hundred hands on the place to-morrow! " said the 
Manager. "There's some chance yet of running 
a temporary dam across that water. Shove in 
anything — tubs and bullock-carts if you haven't 
enough bricks. Make them work now if they 
never worked before. Hi! you gangers, make 
them work." 

Little by little the crowd was broken into de- 
tachments, and pushed toward the water with 
promises of overtime. The dam-making began, 
and when it was fairly under way, the Manager 
thought that the hour had come for the pumps. 
There was no fresh inrush into the mine. The 
tall, red, iron-clamped pump-beam rose and fell, 
and the pumps snored and guttered and shrieked 
as the first water poured out of the pipe. 

" We must run her all to-night," said the Man- 
ager, wearily, "but there's no hope for the poor 
devils down below. Look here, Gur Sahai, if 
you are proud of your engines, show me what 
they can do now." 

Gur Sahai grinned and nodded, with his right 
hand upon the lever and an oil-can in his left. 
He could do no more than he was doing, but he 
could keep that up till the dawn. Were the 

At Twenty-Two 123 

Company's pumps to be beaten by the vagaries 
of that troublesome Tarachunda River ? Never, 
never! And the pumps sobbed and panted: 
"Never, never!" The Manager sat in the shel- 
ter of the pit-bank roofing, trying to dry him- 
self by the pump-boiler fire, and, in the dreary 
dusk, he saw the crov^ds on the dam scatter and 

"That's the end," he groaned. '"Twill take 
us six weeks to persuade 'em that we haven't 
tried to drown their mates on purpose. Oh, for 
a decent, rational Geordie!" 

But the flight had no panic in it. Men had 
run over from Five with astounding news, and 
the foremen could not hold their gangs together. 
Presently, surrounded by a clamorous crew, 
Gangs Rahim, Mogul, and Janki, and ten basket- 
women, walked up to report themselves, and 
pretty little Unda stole away to Janki's hut to 
prepare his evening meal. 

"Alone 1 found the way," explained Janki 
Meah, "and now will the Company give me 
pension ?" 

The simple pit-folk shouted and leaped and 
went back to the dam, reassured in their old be- 
lief that, whatever happened, so great was the 
power of the Company whose salt they ate, 
none of them could be killed. But Gur Sahai 
only bared his white teeth and kept his hand 

124 Indian Tales 

upon the lever and proved his pumps to the ut- 

"I say," said the Assistant to the Manager, a 
week latei, "do you recollect Germinal ? " 

"Yes. 'Queer thing. 1 thought of it in the 
cage when that balk went by. Why ? " 

"Oh, this business seems to be Germinal up- 
side down. Janki was in my veranda all this 
morning, telling me that Kundoo had eloped 
with his wife — Unda or Anda, I think her name 

"Hillo! And those were the cattle that you 
risked your life to clear out of Twenty-Two! " 

"No — I was thinking of the Company's props, 
not the Company's men." 

" Sounds better to say so now; but 1 don't be- 
lieve you, old fellow." 


What did the colonel's lady think ? 

Nobody never knew. 
Somebody asked the sergeant's wife 

An' she told 'em true. 
When you git to a man in the case 

They're like a row o' pins, 
For the colonel's lady an' Judy O'Grady 

Are sisters under their skins. 

Barrack Room Ballad. 

ALL day I had followed at the heels of a pur- 
suing arrny engaged on one of the finest 
battles that ever camp of exercise beheld. Thirty 
thousand troops had by the wisdom of the Gov- 
ernment of India been turned loose over a few 
thousand square miles of country to practice in 
peace what they would nevei attempt in war. 
Consequently cavalry charged unshaken infantry 
at the trot. Infantry captured artillery by frontal 
attacks delivered in line of quarter columns, and 
mounted infantry skirmished up to the wheels of 
an armored train which carried nothing more 
deadly than a twenty-five pounder Armstrong, 
two Nordenfeldts, and a few score volunteers all 
cased in three-eighths-inch boiler-plate. Yet it 

1 26 Indian Tales 

was a very lifelike camp. Operations did not 
cease at sundown; nobody knew the country 
and nobody spared man or horse. There was 
unending cavalry scouting and almost unending 
forced work ov6r broken ground. The Army of 
the South had finally pierced the centre of the 
Army of the North, and was pouring through the 
gap hot-foot to capture a city of strategic im- 
portance. Its front extended fanwise, the sticks 
being represented by regiments strung out along 
the line of route backward to the divisional 
transport columns and all the lumber that trails 
behind an army on the move. On its right the 
broken left of the Army of the North was flying 
in mass, chased by the Southern horse and ham- 
mered by the Southern guns till these had been 
pushed far beyond the limitsof their last support. 
Then the flying sat down to rest, while the elated 
commandant of the pursuing force telegraphed 
that he held all in check and observation. 

Unluckily he did not observe that three miles 
to his right flank a flying column of Northern 
horse with a detachment of Ghoorkhas and 
British troops had been pushed round, as fast as 
the failing light allowed, to cut across the entire 
rear of the Southern Army, to break, as it were, 
all the ribs of the fan where they converged by 
striking at the transport, reserve ammunition, and 
artillery supplies. Their instructions were to go 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 127 

in, avoiding tlie few scouts wiio migbit not liave 
been drawn off by tlie pursuit, and create sutfi- 
cient excitement to impress the Southern Army 
with the wisdom of guarding their own flank 
and rear before they captured cities. It was a 
pretty manoeuvre, neatly carried out. 

Speaking for the second division of the South- 
ern Army, our first intimation of the attack was 
at twilight, when the artillery were laboring in 
deep sand, most of the escort were trying to help 
them out, and the main body of the infantry had 
gone on. A Noah's Ark of elephants, camels, 
and the mixed menagerie of an Indian transport- 
train bubbled and squealed behind the guns, 
when there appeared from nowhere in particular 
British infantry to the extent of three companies, 
who sprang to the heads of the gun-horses and 
brought all to a standstill amid oaths and cheers. 

"How's that, umpire.?" said the major com- 
manding the attack, and with one voice the 
drivers and limber gunners answered "Hout!" 
while the colonel of artillery sputtered. 

" All your scouts are charging our main body," 
said the major. "Your flanks are unprotected 
for two miles. I think we've broken the back of 
this division. And listen, — there go the Ghoor- 

A weak fire broke from the rear-guard more 
than a mile away, and was answered by cheerful 

128 Indian Tales 

bowlings. The Ghoorkhas, who should have 
swung clear of the second division, had stepped 
on its tail in the dark, but drawing off hastened 
to reach the next line of attack, which lay almost 
parallel to us five or six miles away. 

Our column swayed and surged irresolutely, — 
three batteries, the divisional ammunition reserve, 
the baggage, and a section of the hospital and 
bearer corps. The commandant ruefully prom- 
ised to report himself "cut up "to the nearest 
umpire, and commending his cavalry and all 
other cavalry to the special care of Eblis, toiled 
on to resume touch with the rest of the division. 

"We'll bivouac here to-night," said the major, 
"I have a notion that the Ghoorkhas will get 
caught. They may want us to re-form on. 
Stand easy till the transport gets away." 

A hand caught my beast's bridle and led him 
out of the choking dust; a larger hand deftly 
canted me out of the saddle; and two of the 
hugest hands in the world received me sliding. 
Pleasant is the lot of the special correspondent 
who falls into such hands as those of Privates 
Mulvaney, Ortheris, and Learoyd. 

" An' that's all right," said the Irishman, calmly. 
"We thought we'd find you somewheres here by. 
Is there anything av yours in the transport? 
Orth'ris'll fetch ut out." 

Ortheris did "fetch ut out," from under the 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 129 

trunk of an elephant, in the shape of a servant 
and an animal both laden with medical comforts. 
The little man's eyes sparkled. 

•' If the brutil an' licentious soldiery av these 
parts gets sight av the thruck," said Mulvaney, 
making practiced investigation, "they'll loot 
ev'rything. They're bein' fed on iron-filin's an' 
dog-biscuit these days, but glory's no compensa- 
tion for a belly-ache. Praise be, we're here to 
protect you, sorr. Beer, sausage, bread (soft an' 
that's a cur'osity), soup in 2 tin, whisky by the 
smell av ut, an' fowls! Mother av Moses, but ye 
take the field like a confectioner! 'Tis scan- 

" 'Ere's a orficer," said Ortheris, significantly. 
"When the sergent's done lushin' the privit rnay 
clean the pot." 

I bundled several things into Mulvaney's haver- 
sack before the major's hand fell on my shoulder 
and he said, tenderly, " Requisitioned for the 
Queen's service Wolseley was quite wrong 
about special correspondents: they are the sol- 
dier's best friends. Come and take pot-luck 
with us to-night." 

And so it happened amid laughter and shout- 
ings that my well-considered commissariat melted 
away to reappear later at the mess-table, which 
was a waterproof sheet spread on the ground. 
The flying column had taken three days' rations 

I30 Indian Tales 

with it, and there be few things nastier than 
government rations — especially when govern- 
ment is experimenting with German toys. 
Erbsenwurst, tinned beef of surpassing tin- 
niness^ compressed vegetables, and meat-bis- 
cuits may be nourishing, but what Thomas 
Atkins needs is bulk in his inside. The major, 
assisted by his brother officers, purchased goats 
for the camp and so made the experiment of 
no effect. Long before the fatigue-party sent 
to collect brushwood had returned, the men were 
settled down by their valises, kettles and pots 
had appeared from the surrounding country and 
were dangling over fires as the kid and the com- 
pressed vegetable bubbled together; there rose 
a cheerful clinking of mess-tins; outrageous de- 
mands for "a little more stuffm' with that there 
liver-wing; " and gust on gust of chaff as pointed 
as a bayonet and as delicate as a gun-butt. 

"The boys are in a good temper," said the 
major. " They'll be singing presently. Well, a 
night like this is enough to keep them happy." 

Over our heads burned the wonderful Indian 
stars, which are not all pricked in on one plane, 
but, preserving an orderly perspective, draw the 
eye through the velvet darkness of the void up 
to the barred doors of heaven itself. The earth 
was a grey shadow more unreal than the sky. 
We could hear her breathing lightly in the pauses 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 131 

between the howling of the jackals, the move- 
ment of the wind in the tamarisks, and the fitful 
mutter of musketry-fire leagues away to the left. 
A native woman from some unseen hut began to 
sing, the mail-train thundered past on its way to 
Delhi, and a roosting crow cawed drowsily. 
Then there was a belt-loosening silence about the 
fires, and the even breathing of the crowded 
earth took up the story. 

The men, full fed, turned to tobacco and song, 
— their officers with them. The subaltern is 
happy who can win the approval of the musical 
critics in his regiment, and is honored among the 
more intricate step-dancers. By him, as by him 
who plays cricket cleverly, Thomas Atkins will 
stand in time of need, when he will let a better 
officer go on alone. The ruined tombs of for- 
gotten Mussulman saints heard the ballad of 
Agra Town, The Buffalo Battery, Marching to 
Kabul, The long, long Indian Day, The Place 
where the Punkah-coolie died, and that crashing 
chorus which announces, 

Youth's daring spirit, manhood's fire, 

Firm hand and eagle eye, 
Must he acquire who would aspire 

To see the grey boar die. 

To-day, of all those jovial thieves who appro- 
priated my commissariat and lay and laughed 
round that waterproof sheet, not one remains. 

^32 Indian Tales 

They went to camps that were not of exercise 
and battles without umpires. Burmah, the Sou- 
dan, and the frontier, — fever and fight, — took 
them in their time. 

I drifted across to the men's fires in search of 
Mulvaney, whom I found strategically greasing 
his feet by the blaze. There is nothing particu- 
larly lovely in the sight of a private thus engaged 
after a long day's march, but when you reflect on 
the exact proportion of the "might, majesty, 
dominion, and power" of the British Empire 
which stands on those feet you take an interest 
in the proceedings. 

" There's a blister, bad luck to ut, on the heel," 
said Mulvaney. " I can't touch ut. Prick ut out, 
little man." 

Ortheris took out his house-wife, eased the 
trouble with a needle, stabbed Mulvaney in the 
calf with the same weapon, and was swiftly 
kicked into the fire. 

" I've bruk the best av my toes over you, ye 
grinnin' child av disruption," said Mulvaney, sit- 
ting cross-legged and nursing his feet; then see- 
ing me, "Oh, ut's you, sorr! Be welkim, an' 
take that maraudin' scutt's place. Jock, hold 
him down on the cindhers for a bit." 

But Ortheris escaped and went elsewhere, as I 
took possession of the hollow he had scraped for 
himself and lined with his greatcoat. Learoyd 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 133 

on the other side of the fire grinned affably and 
in a minute fell fast asleep. 

"There's the height av politeness for you," 
said Mulvaney, lighting his pipe with a flaming 
branch. "But Jock's eaten half a box av your 
sardines at wan gulp, an' 1 think the tin too. 
What's the best wid you, sorr, an' how did you 
happen to be on the losin' side this day whin we 
captured you ? " 

"The Army of the South is winning all along 
the line," 1 said. 

"Then that line's the hangman's rope, savin' 
your presence. You'll learn to-morrow how we 
rethreated to dhraw thim on before we made 
thim trouble, an' that's what a woman does. By 
the same tokin, we'll be attacked before the 
dawnin' an' ut would be betther not to slip your 
boots. How do I knov/ that } By the light av 
pure reason. Here are three companies av us 
ever so far inside av the enemy's flank an' a crowd 
av roarin', tarin', squealin' cavalry gone on just 
to turn out the whole hornet's nest av them. Av 
course the enemy will pursue, by brigades like as 
not, an' thin we'll have to run for ut. Mark my 
words. I am av the opinion av Polonius whin 
he said, ' Don't fight wid ivry scutt for the pure 
joy av fightin', but if you do, knock the nose av 
him first an' frequint.' We ought to ha' gone on 
an' helped the Ghoorkhas." 

134 Indian Tales 

" But what do you know about Polonius?" 1 
demanded. This was a new side of Mulvaney's 

"All that Shakespeare iver wrote an' a dale 
more that the gallery shouted," said the man of 
war, carefully lacing his boots. " Did I not tell 
you av Silver's theatre in Dublin, whin I was 
younger than 1 am now an' a patron av the 
drama ? Ould Silver wud never pay actor-man 
or woman their just dues, an' by consequince his 
comp'nies was collapsible at the last minut. Thin 
the bhoys wud clamor to take a part, an" oft as 
not ould Silver made them pay for the fun. 
Faith, I've seen Hamlut played wid a new black 
eye an' the queen as full as a cornucopia. I re- 
mimber wanst Hogin that 'listed in the Black 
Tyrone an' was shot in South Africa, he sejuced 
ould Silver into givin' him Hamlut's part instid 
av me that had a fine fancy for rhetoric in those 
days. Av course 1 wint into the gallery an' be- 
gan to fill the pit wid other people's hats, an' I 
passed the time av day to Hogin walkin' through 
Denmark like a hamstrung mule wid a pall on his 
back. 'Hamlut,' sez I, 'there's a hole in your 
heel. Pull up your shtockin's, Hamlut,' sez I. 
' Hamlut, Hamlut, for the love av decincy dhrop 
that skull an' pull up your shtockin's.' The 
whole house begun to tell him that. He stopped 
his soliloquishms mid-between. ' My shtockin's 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 135 

may be comin' down or they may not,' sez he, 
screwin' his eye into the gallery, for well he knew 
who I was. ' But afther this performince is over 
me an' the Ghost '11 trample the tripes out av 
you, Terence, wid your ass's bray!' An' that's 
how I come to know about Hamlut. Eyah! 
Those days, those days! Did you iver have 
onendin' devilmint an' nothin' to pay for it in 
your life, sorr ? " 

"Never, without having to pay," 1 said. 

" That's thrue! 'Tis mane whin you considher 
en ut; but ut's the same wid horse or fut. A 
headache if you dhrink, an' a belly-ache if you 
eat too much, an' a heart-ache to kape all down. 
Faith, the beast only gets the colic, an' he's the 
lucky man." 

He dropped his head and stared into the fire, 
fingering his moustache the while. From the 
far side of the bivouac the voice of Corbet-Nolan, 
senior subaltern of B Company, uplifted itself in 
an ancient and much appreciated song of senti- 
ment, the men moaning melodiously behind him. 

The north wind blew coldly, she dropped from that hour. 
My own little Kathleen, my sweet little Kathleen, 
Kathleen, my Kathleen, Kathleen O'Moore ! 

With forty-five O's in the last word: even at 
that distance you might have cut the soft South 
Irish accent with a shovel. 

1 36 Indian Tales 

" For all we take we must pay, but the price 
is cruel high," murmured Mulvaney when the 
chorus had ceased. 

"What's the trouble?" 1 said gently, for 1 
knew that he was a man of an inextinguishable 

" Hear now," said he. " Ye know what I am 
now. / know what I mint to be at the beginnin' 
av my service. I've tould you tim.e an' again, an* 
what I have not Dinah Shadd has. An' what am 
1 ? Oh, Mary Mother av Hiven, an ould dhrunken, 
untrustable baste av a privit that has seen the 
reg'ment change out from colonel to drummer- 
boy, not wanst or twice, but scores av times! 
Ay, scores! An' me not so near gettin' promo- 
tion as in the first! An' me livin' on an' kapin' 
clear av clink, not by my own good conduck, but 
the kindness av some orf'cer-bhoy young enough 
to be son to me! Do 1 not know ut.^ Can I not 
tell whin I'm passed over at p'rade, tho' I'm 
rockin' full av liquor an' ready to fall all in wan 
piece, such as even a suckin' child might see, be-. 
kaze, 'Oh, 'tis only ould Mulvaney!' An' whin 
I'm let off in ord'ly-room through some thrick of 
the tongue an' a ready answer an' the ould man's 
mercy, is ut smilin' I feel whin I fall away an' go 
back to Dinah Shadd, thryin' to carry ut all off as 
a joke? Not I! 'Tis hell to me, dumb hell 
through ut all; an' next time whin the fit comes 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 137 

I will be as bad again. Good cause the reg'ment 
has to know me for the best soldier in ut. Bet- 
ter cause have I to know mesilf for the worst 
man. I'm only fit to tache the new drafts what 
I'll niver learn mesilf; an' I am sure, as tho' I 
heard ut, that the minut wan av these pink-eyed 
recruities gets away from my ' Mind ye now,' an' 
'Listen to this, Jim, bhoy,' — sure I am that the 
sergint houlds me up to him for a warnin'. So I 
tache, as they say at musketry-instruction, by di- 
rect and ricochet fire. Lord be good to me, for I 
have stud some throuble! " 

" Lie down and go to sleep," said 1, not being 
able to comfort or advise. " You're the best man 
in the regiment, and, next to Ortheris, the 
biggest fool. Lie down and wait till we're at- 
tacked. What force will they turn out.? Guns, 
think you .?" 

"Try that wid your lorrds an' ladies, twistin' 
an' turnin' the talk, tho' you mint ut well. Ye 
cud say nothin' to help me, an' yet ye niver knew 
what cause 1 had to be what 1 am." 

"Begin at the beginning and go on to the 
end," I said, royally. " But rake up the fire a bit 

1 passed Ortheris's bayonet for a poker. 

"That shows how little we know what v/e 
do," said Mulvaney, putting it aside. "Fire 
takes all the heart out av the steel, an' the next 

138 Indian Tales 

time, may be, that our little man is fighting for 
his life his bradawl '11 break, an' so you'll ha' 
killed him, manin' no more than to kape yourself 
warm. 'Tis a recruity's thrick that. Pass the 
clanin'-rod, sorr." 

I snuggled down abased ; and after an interval 
the voice of Mulvaney began. 

" Did 1 iver tell you how Dinah Shadd came to 
be wife av mine } " 

I dissembled a burning anxiety that I had felt 
for some months — ever since Dinah Shadd, the 
strong, the patient, and the infinitely tender, had 
of her own good love and free will washed a 
shirt for me, moving in a barren land where 
washing was not. 

"I can't remember," I said, casually. "Was it 
before or after you made love to Annie Bragin, 
and got no satisfaction ? " 

The story of Annie Bragin is written in another 
place. It is one of the many less respectable 
episodes in Mulvaney's checkered career. 

"Before — before — long before, was that busi- 
ness av Annie Bragin an' the corp'ril's ghost. 
Niver woman was the worse for me whin I had 
married Dinah. There's a time for all things, an' 
I know how to kape all things in place — barrin' 
the dhrink, that kapes me in my place wid no 
hope av comin' to be aught else." 

''Begin at the beginning," I insisted. "Mrs. 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 139 

Mulvaney told me that you married her when 
you were quartered in Krab Bokhar barracks." 

"An' the same is a cess-pit," said Mulvaney, 
piously. "She spoke thrue, did Dinah. 'Twas 
this way. Talkin' av that, have ye iver fallen in 
love, sorr?" 

1 preserved the silence of the damned. Mul- 
vaney continued — 

"Thin I will assume that ye have not. / did. 
In the days av my youth, as I have more than 
wanst tould you, I was a man that filled the 
eye an' delighted the sowl av women. Niver 
man was hated as 1 have bin. Niver man was 
loved as 1 — no, not within half a day's march 
av ut! For the first five years av my service, 
whin I was what I wud give my sowl to be 
now, I tuk whatever was within my reach an' 
digested ut — an' that's more than most men can 
say. Dhrink I tuk, an' ut did me no harm. By 
the Hollow av Hiven, I cud play wid four women 
at wanst, an' kape them from findin' out any- 
thin' about the other three, an' smile like a full- 
blown marigold through ut all. Dick Coulhan, 
av the battery we'll have down on us to-night, 
could drive his team no better than I mine, an' I 
hild the worser cattle! An' so I lived, an' so I 
was happy till afther that business wid Annie 
Bragin — she that turned me off as cool as a 
meat-safe, an' taught me where I stud in the 

140 Indian Tales 

mind av an honest woman. 'Twas no sweet 
dose to swallow. 

" Afther that 1 sickened awhile an' tuk thought 
to my reg'mental work; conceiting mesilf 1 wud 
study an' be a sargint, an' a major-gineral twinty 
minutes afther that. But on top av my ambi- 
tiousness there was an empty place in my sowl, 
an' me own opinion av mesilf cud not fill ut. 
Sez I to mesilf, ' Terence, you're a great man an' 
the best set-up in the reg'mint. Go on an' get 
promotion.' Sez mesilf to me, 'What for.''' 
Sez I to mesilf, ' For the glory av ut! ' Sez me- 
silf to me, ' Will that fill these two strong arrums 
av yours, Terence?' 'Go to the devil,' sez I to 
mesilf. 'Go to the married lines,' sez mesilf to 
me. ' 'Tis the same thing,' sez I to mesilf. ' Av 
you're the same man, ut is,' said mesilf to me; 
an' wid that I considhered on ut a long while. 
Did you iver feel that way, sorr.?" 

I snored gently, knowing that if Mulvaney 
were uninterrupted he would go on. The 
clamor from the bivouac fires beat up to the stars, 
as the rival singers of the companies were pitted 
against each other. 

"So I felt that way an' a bad time ut was. 
Wanst, bein' a fool, I wint into the married lines 
more for the sake av spakin' to our ould color- 
sergint Shadd than for any thruck wid women- 
folk. I was a corp'ril then — rejuced aftherward. 

Th^ Courting of Dinah Shadd 141 

but a corp'ril then. I've got a photograft av me- 
silf to prove ut. ' You'll take a cup av tay wid 
us?' sez Shadd. '1 will that,' 1 sez, 'tho' tay is 
not my divarsion.' 

" ' 'Twud be better for you if ut were,' sez ould 
Mother Shadd, an' she had ought to know, for 
Shadd, in the ind av his service, dhrank bung-full 
each night. 

"Wid that I tuk off my gloves — there was 
pipe-clay in thim, so that they stud alone— an' 
pulled up my chair, lookin' round at the china 
ornaments an' bits av things in the Shadds' quar- 
ters. They were things that belonged to a man, 
an' no camp-kit, here to-day an' dishipated next. 
'You're comfortable in this place, sergint,' sez 1. 
'Tis the wife that did ut, boy,' sez he, pointin' 
the stem av his pipe to ould Mother Shadd, an' 
she smacked the top av his bald head apon the 
compliment. 'That manes you want money,' 
sez she. 

"An' thin — an' thin whin the kettle was to be 
filled, Dinah came in — my Dinah — her sleeves 
fowled up to the elbow an' her hair in a winkin' 
glory over her forehead, the big blue eyes be- 
neath twinklin' like stars on a frosty night, an' 
the tread av her two feet lighter than waste- 
paper from the colonel's basket in ord'Iy-room 
whin ut's emptied. Bein' but a shlip av a girl 
she went pink at seein' me, an' I twisted me 

142 Indian Tales 

moustache an' looked at a picture forninst the 
wall. Niver show a woman that ye care the 
snap av a finger for her, an' begad she'll come 
bleatin' to your boot-heels! " 

"I suppose that's why you followed Annie 
Bragin till everybody in the married quarters 
laughed at you," said I, remembering that un- 
hallowed wooing and casting off the disguise of 

"I'm layin' down the gin'ral theory av the at- 
tack," said Mulvaney, driving his boot into the 
dying fire. "If you read the Soldier's Pocket 
Book, which niver any soldier reads, you'll see 
that there are exceptions. Whin Dinah was out 
av the door (an' 'twas as tho' the sunlight had 
shut too) — ' Mother av Hiven, sergint,' sez I, ' but 
is that your daughter?' — ' I've believed that way 
these eighteen years,' sez ould Shadd, his eyes 
twinklin'; 'but Mrs. Shadd has her own opinion, 
like iv'ry woman.' — ' 'Tis wid yours this time, for 
a mericle,' sez Mother Shadd. 'Thin why in the 
name av fortune did I niver see her before ?' sez 
I. * Bekaze you've been thrapesin' round wid the 
married women these three years past. She was 
a bit av a child till last year, an' she shot up wid 
the spring,' sez ould Mother Shadd. ' I'll thrapese 
no more,' sez I. 'D'you mane that?' sez ould 
Mother Shadd, lookin' at me side-ways like a hen 
looks at a hawk whin the chickens are runnin' 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 143 

free. 'Try me, an' tell,' sez I, Wid that I pulled 
on my gloves, dhrank off the tay, an' went out 
av the house as stiff as at gin'ral p'rade, for well 
I knew that Dinah Shadd's eyes were in the small 
av my back out av the scullery window. Faith! 
that was the only time 1 mourned 1 was not a 
cav'lry man for the pride av the spurs to jingle. 

' ' 1 wint out to think, an' 1 did a powerful lot av 
thinkin', but ut all came round to that shlip av a 
girl in the dotted blue dhress, wid the blue eyes 
an' the sparkil in them. Thin I kept off canteen, 
an' I kept to the married quarthers, or near by, 
on the chanst av meetin' Dinah. Did I meet her? 
Oh, my time past, did I not; wid a lump in my 
throat as big as my valise an' my heart goin' like 
a farrier's forge on a Saturday morning ? 'Twas 
'Good day to ye, Miss Dinah,' an' 'Good day 
t'you, corp'ril,' for a week or two, and divil a 
bit further could I get bekaze av the respect I 
had to that girl that 1 cud ha' broken betune 
finger an' thumb." 

Here I giggled as I recalled the gigantic figure 
of Dinah Shadd when she handed me my shirt. 

"Ye may laugh," grunted Mulvaney. "But 
I'm speakin' the trut', an' 'tis you that are in fault. 
Dinah was a girl that wud ha' taken the imperi- 
ousness out av the Duchess av Clonmel in those 
days. Flower hand, foot av shod air, an' the 
eyes av the livin' mornin' she had that is my wife 

144 Indian Tales 

to-day — ould Dinah, and niver aught else than 
Dinah Shadd to me. 

" 'Twas after three weeks standin' ofif an' on, 
an' niver rnakin' headway excipt through the 
eyes, that a little drummer boy grinned in me 
face whin 1 had admonished him wid the buckle 
av my belt for riotin' all over the place. 'An' 
I'm not the only wan that doesn't kape to bar- 
ricks,' sez he. I tuk him by the scruff av his 
neck, — my heart was hung on a hair-thrigger 
those days, you will onderstand — an' 'Out wid 
ut,' sez 1, 'or I'll lave no bone av you unbreak- 
able.' — 'Speak to Dempsey,' sez he howlin'. 
' Dempsey which } ' sez I, ' ye unwashed limb av 
Satan.' — 'Avthe Bob-tailed Dhragoons,' sez he. 
' He's seen her home from her aunt's house in the 
civil lines four times this fortnight. ' — ' Child ! ' sez 
I, dhroppin' him, * your tongue's stronger than 
your body. Go to your quarters. I'm sorry I 
dhressed you down.' 

"At that I went four ways to wanst huntin* 
Dempsey. I was mad to think that wid all my 
airs among women I shud ha' been chated by a 
basin-faced fool av a cav'lryman not fit to trust 
on a trunk. Presintly I found him in our lines — 
the Bobtails was quartered next us — an' a tallowy, 
topheavy son av a she-mule he was wid his big 
brass spurs an' his plastrons on his epigastrons 
an' all. But he niver flinched a hair. 

The Courting of Dinah ShaJd 145 

" ' A word wid you, Dempsey,' sez I. * You've 
walked wid Dinah Shadd four times this fort- 
night gone.' 

" ' What's that to you ? ' sez he. ' I'll walk forty 
times more, an' forty on top av that, ye shovel- 
futted clod-breakin' infantry lance-corp'ril.' 

"Before I cud gyard he had his gloved fist 
home on my cheek an' down 1 went full-sprawl. 
'Will that content you.?' sez he, blowin' on his 
knuckles for all the world like a Scots Greys 
orf'cer. ' Content! ' sez I. ' For your own sake, 
man, take off your spurs, peel your jackut, an' 
onglove. 'Tis the beginnin' av the overture; 
stand up! ' 

" He stud all he know, but he niver peeled his 
jacket, an' his shoulders had no fair play. I was 
fightin' for Dinah Shadd an' that cut on my cheek. 
What hope had he forninst me.? 'Stand up,' sez 
1, time an' again whin he was beginnin' to quar- 
ter the ground an' gyard high an' go large. ' This 
isn't ridin'-school,' I sez. 'O man, stand up an' 
let me get in at ye.' But whin I saw he wud be 
runnin' about, I grup his shtock in my left an' his 
waist-belt in my right an' swung him clear to my 
right front, head undher, he hammerin' my nose 
till the wind was knocked out av him on the bare 
ground. ' Stand up,' sez I, ' or I'll kick your head 
into your chest!' and 1 wud ha' done ut too, so 
ragin' mad I was. 

^4€> Indian Tales 

•''My collar-bone's bruk,' sez he. 'Help me 
back to lines. I'll walk wid her no more.' So I 
helped him back." 

"And was his collar-bone broken?"! asked, 
for I fancied that only Learoyd could neatly ac- 
complish that terrible throw. 

"He pitched on his left shoulder point. Ut 
was. Next day the news was in both barricks, 
an' whin I met Dinah Shadd wid a cheek on me 
like all the reg'mintal tailor's samples there was 
no 'Good mornin', corp'ril,' or aught else. 'An' 
what have I done, Miss Shadd,' sez 1, very bould, 
plantin' mesilf forninst her, 'that ye should not 
pass the time of day }' 

" ' Ye've half-killed rough-rider Dempsey,' sez 
she, her dear blue eyes fillin' up. 

" ' May be,' sez I. ' Was he a friend av yours 
that saw ye home four times in the fortnight ? ' 

" 'Yes,' sez she, but her mouth was down at 
the corners. ' An' — an' what's that to you } ' she 

" ' Ask Demsey,' sez I, purtendin' to go away. 

" 'Did you fight for me then, ye silly man?' 
she sez, tho' she knew ut all along. 

" ' Who else ?' sez I, an' I tuk wan pace to the 

" ' I wasn't worth ut,' sez she, fingerin' in her 

' ' ' That's for me to say, ' sez I. ' Shall I say ut ? * 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 147 

"'Yes/sez she, in a saint's whisper, an' at 
that I explained mesilf ; and she tould me what 
ivry man that is a man, an' many that is a 
woman, hears wanst in his life. 

'"But what made ye cry at startin', Dinah, 
darlin' ?' sez I. 

" 'Your — your bloody cheek,' sez she, duckin' 
her little head down on my sash (I was on duty 
for the day) an' whimperin' like a sorrowful 

" Now a man cud take that two ways. I tuk 
ut as pleased me best an' my first kiss wid ut. 
Mother av Innocence! but I kissed her on the tip 
av the nose and undher the eye ; an' a girl that 
let's a kiss come tumble-ways like that has never 
been kissed before. Take note av that, sorr. 
Thin we wint hand in hand to ould Mother Shadd 
like two little childher, an' she said 'twas no bad 
thing, an' ould Shadd nodded behind his pipe, 
an' Dinah ran away to her own room. That day 
I throd on rollin' clouds. All earth was too small 
to hould me. Begad, I cud ha' hiked the sun out 
av the sky for a live coal to my pipe, so magnif- 
icent 1 was. But I tuk recruities at squad-drill 
instid, an' began wid general battalion advance 
whin I shud ha' been balance-steppin' them. 
Eyah ! that day ! that day ! " 

A very long pause. " Well ?" said I. 

"'Twas all wrong," said Mulvaney, with an 

1 48 Indian Tales 

enormous sigh. "An' I know that ev'ry bit av 
ut was my own foolishness. That night 1 tuk 
maybe the half av three pints — not enough to 
turn the hair of a man in his natural senses. But 
I was more than half drunk wid pure joy, an' 
that canteen beer was so much whisky to me. I 
can't tell how it came about, but bekaie I had no 
thought for anywan except Dinah, behave I 
hadn't slipped her little white arms from my neck 
five minuts, bekaie the breath of her kiss was not 
gone from my mouth, I must go through the 
married lines on my way to quarters an' I must 
stay talkin' to a red-headed Mullingar heifer av a 
girl, Judy Sheehy, that was daughter to Mother 
Sheehy, the wife of Nick Sheehy, the canteen- 
sergint — the Black Curse av Shielygh be on the 
whole brood that are above groun' this day ! 

"'An' what are ye houldin' your head that 
high for, corp'ril .?' sez Judy. ' Come in an' thry 
a cup av tay,' she sez, standin' in the doorway. 
Bein' an ontrustable fool, an' thinkin' av anything 
but tay, I wint. 

"'Mother's at canteen,' sez Judy, smoothin' 
the hair av hers that was like red snakes, an' 
lookin' at me corner-ways out av her green cats' 
eyes. 'Ye will not mind, corp'ril.?' 

"'I can endure,' sez I ; ould Mother Sheehy 
bein' no divarsion av mine, nor her daughter too. 
Judy fetched the tea things an' put thim on the 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 149 

table, leanin' over me very close to get thim 
square. I dhrew back, thinkin' av Dinah. 

" ' Is ut afraid you are av a girl alone?' sez 

"'No,' sez I. 'Why should I be.?' 

" 'That rests wid the girl,' sez Judy, dhrawin' 
her chair next to mine. 

"'Thin there let ut rest,' sez I ; an' thinkin' 
I'd been a trifle onpolite, I sez, ' The tay's not 
quite sweet enough for my taste. Put your little 
finger in the cup, Judy. 'Twill make ut necthar.' 

" ' What's necthar }' sez she. 

" ' Somethin' very sweet,' sez I; an' for the 
sinful life av me I cud not help lookin' at her out 
av the corner av my eye, as I was used to look at 
a woman. 

" ' Go on wid ye, corp'ril,' sez she. ' You're a 

" 'On me sowl I'm not,' sez I. 

"'Then you're a cruel handsome man, an' 
that's worse,' sez she, heaving big sighs an' 
lookin' crossways. 

" ' You know your own mind,' sez I. 

" ' 'Twud be better for me if 1 did not,' she sez. 

" 'There's a dale to be said on both sides av 
that,' sez I, unthinkin'. 

"'Say your own part av ut, then, Terence, 
darlin',' sez she ; ' for begad I'm thinkin' I've said 
too much or too little for an honest girl,' an' wid 

150 Indian Tales 

that she put her arms round my neck an' kissed 

" 'There's no more to be said afther that,' sez 
ii, kissin' her back again — Oh the mane scutt that 1 
was, my head ringin' wid Dinah Shadd ! How 
does ut come about, sorr, that when a man has 
put the comether on wan woman, he's sure 
bound to put it on another ? 'Tis the same thing 
at musketry. Wan day ivry shot goes wide or 
into the bank, an' the next, lay high lay low, 
sight or snap, ye can't get off the bull's-eye for 
ten shots runnin'." 

"That only happens to a man who has had a 
good deal of experience. He does it without 
thinking," 1 replied. 

"Thankin' you for the complimint, sorr, ut 
may be so. But I'm doubtful whether you mint 
ut for a complimint. Hear now ; I sat there wid 
Judy on my knee tellin' me all manner av non- 
sinse an' only sayin' 'yes' an' 'no,' when I'd 
much better ha' kept tongue betune teeth. An' 
that was not an hour afther I had left Dinah! 
What I was thinkin' avi cannot say. Presintly, 
quiet as a cat, ould Mother Sheehy came in vel- 
vet-dhrunk. She had her daughter's red hair, 
but 'twas bald in patches, an' I cud see in her 
wicked ould face, clear as lightnin', what Judy 
wud be twenty years to come. 1 was for jumpin' 
up, but Judy niver moved. 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 151 

"'Terence has promust, mother/ sez she, an' 
the could sweat bruk out all over me. Ould 
Mother Sheehy sat down of a heap an' began 
playin' wid the cups. * Thin you're a well- 
matched pair,' she sez, very thick. 'For he's 
the biggest rogue that iver spoiled the queen's 
shoe-leather,' an' — 

"'I'm off, Judy,' sez I. 'Ye should not talk 
nonsinse to your mother. Get her to bed, girl.' 

" ' Nonsinse ! ' sez the ould woman, prickin' up 
her ears like a cat an' grippin' the table-edge. 
' 'Twill be the most nonsinsical nonsinse for you, 
ye grinnin' badger, if nonsinse 'tis. Git clear, 
you. I'm goin' to bed.' 

"I ran out into the dhark, my head in a stew 
an' my heart sick, but I had sinse enough to see 
that I'd brought ut all on mysilf. ' It's this to 
pass the time av day to a panjandhrum av hell- 
cats,' sez 1. 'What I've said, an' what I've not 
said do not matther. Judy an' her dam will 
hould me for a promust man, an' Dinah will give 
me the go, an' I desarve ut. I will go an' get 
dhrunk,' sez I, 'an' forget about ut, for 'tis plain 
I'm not a marrin' man.' 

" On my way to canteen I ran agamst Las- 
celles, color-sergeant that was av E Comp'ny, a 
hard, hard man, wid a torment av a wife. 
'You've the head av a drov/ned man on your 
shoulders,' sez he; 'an' you're goin' where you'll 

152 Indian Tales 

get a worse wan. Come back,' sez he. ' Let me 
go,' sez I. M've thrown my luck over the wall 
wid my own hand! ' — 'Then that's not the way 
to get ut back again,' sez he. 'Have out wid 
your throuble, ye fool-bhoy.' An' 1 tould him 
how the matther was. 

"He sucked in his lower lip. 'You've been 
thrapped,' sez he. 'Ju Sheehy wud be the bet- 
ther for a man's name to hers as soon as can. An 
ye thought ye'd put the comether on her, — that's 
the natural vanity of the baste. Terence, you're 
a big born fool, but you're not bad enough to 
marry into that comp'ny. If you said anythin', 
an' for all your protestations I'm sure ye did — or 
did not, which is worse, — eat ut all — lie like the 
father of all lies, but come out av ut free av Judy. 
Do I not know what ut is to marry a woman that 
was the very spit an' image av Judy whin she 
was young.? I'm gettin' old an' I've larnt pa- 
tience, but you, Terence, you'd raise hand on 
Judy an' kill her in a year. Never mind if Dinah 
gives you the go, you've desarved ut; never mind 
if the whole reg'mint laughs you all day. Get 
shut av Judy an' her mother. They can't dhrag 
you to church, but if they do. they'll dhrag you 
to hell. Go back to your quarters and lie down,' 
sez he. Thin over his shoulder, ' You must ha' 
done with thim.' 

"Next day I wint to see Dinah, but there was 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 153 

no tucker in me as I walked. I knew the 
throuble wud come soon enough widout any 
handlin' av mine, an' I dreaded ut sore. 

" I heard Judy callin' me, but I hild straight on 
to the Shadds' quarthers, an' Dinah wud ha' 
kissed me but I put her back. 

"'Whin all's said, darlin','sez I, 'you can give 
ut me if ye will, tho' I misdoubt 'twill be so easy 
to come by then.' 

"1 had scarce begun to put the explanation 
into shape before Judy an' her mother came to 
the door. I think there was a veranda, but I'm 

" 'Will ye not step in .?' sez Dinah, pretty and 
polite, though the Shadds had no dealin's with 
the Sheehys. Old Mother Shadd looked up 
quick, an' she was the fust to see the throuble; 
for Dinah was her daughter. 

"'I'm pressed for time to-day,' sez Judy as 
bould as brass; 'an' I've only come for Terence, 
— my promust man. 'Tis strange to find him 
here the day afther the day.' 

"Dinah looked at me as though I had hit her, 
an' I answered straight. 

"'There was some nonsinse last night at the 
Sheehys' quarthers, an' Judy's carryin' on the 
joke, darlin',' sez I. 

" ' At the Sheehys' quarthers } ' sez Dinah very 
slow, an' Judy cut in wid: 'He was there from 

154 Indian Tales 

nine till ten, Dinah Shadd, an' the betther half av 
that time I was sittin' on his knee, Dinah Shadd. 
Ye may look and ye may look an' ye may look 
me up an' down, but ye won't look away that 
Terence is my promust man. Terence, darlin', 
'tis time for us to be comin' home.' 

" Dinah Shadd niver said word to Judy. ' Ye 
left me at half-past eight,' she sez to me, 'an' I 
niver thought that yed leave me for Judy, — 
promises or no promises. Go back wid her, you 
that have to be fetched by a girl! I'm done with 
you,' sez she, and she ran into her own room, 
her mother followin'. So i was alone wid those 
two women and at liberty to spake my senti- 

" ' Judy Sheehy,' sez I, ' if you made a fool av 
me betune the lights you shall not do ut in the 
day. I niver promised you words or lines.' 

" ' You lie,' sez ould Mother Sheehy, 'an' may 
ut choke you wnere you stand ! ' She was far 
gone in dhrink. 

" 'An' tho' ut choked me where 1 stud I'd not 
change,' sez I. 'Go home, Judy. I take shame 
for a decent girl like you dhraggin' your mother 
out bareheaded on this errand. Hear now, and 
have ut for an answer. 1 gave my word to 
Dinah Shadd yesterday, an', more blame to me, I 
was wid you last night talkin' nonsinse but 
nothin' more. You've chosen to thry to hould 

The Cou rting of Dinah Shadd 155 

me on ut. I will not be held thereby for anythin' 
in the world. Is that enough ? ' 

"Judy wint pink all over. 'An' I wish you 
joy av the perjury,' sez she, duckin' a curtsey. 
' You've lost a woman that would ha' wore her 
hand to the bone for your pleasure; an' 'deed, Ter- 
ence, ye were not thrapped. . . .' Lascelles 
must ha' spoken plain to her. ' 1 am such as Dinah 
is— 'deed I am ! Ye've lost a fool av a girl that'll 
niver look at you again, an' ye've lost what he 
niver had, — your common honesty. If you man- 
age your men as you manage your love-makin', 
small wondher they call you the worst corp'ril 
in the comp'ny. Come away, mother,' sez she. 

" But divil a fut would the ould woman budge! 
' D'you hould by that ?' sez she, peerin' up under 
her thick grey eyebrows. 

"'Ay, an' wud,' sez I, ' tho' Dinah give me 
the go twinty times. I'll have no thruck with 
you or yours,' sez I. 'Take your child away, ye 
shameless woman.' 

" ' An' am I shameless ?' sez she, bringin' her 
hands up above her head. 'Thin what are you, 
ye lyin', schamin', weak-kneed, dhirty-souled son 
av a sutler ? Am / shameless ? Who put the 
open shame on me an' my child that we shud go 
beggin' through the lines in the broad daylight 
for the broken word of a man } Double portion 
of my shame be on you, Terence Mulvaney, that 

156 Indian Tales 

think yourself so strong! By Mary and the 
saints, by blood and water an' by ivry sorrow 
that came into the world since the beginnin', the 
black blight fall on you and yours, so that you 
may niver be free from pain for another when 
ut's not your own! May your heart bleed in 
your breast drop by drop wid all your friends 
laughin' at the bleedin'! Strong you think your- 
self ? May your strength be a curse to you to 
dhrive you into the divil's hands against your 
own will! Clear-eyed you are ? May your eyes 
see clear evry step av the dark path you take till 
the hot cindhers av hell put thim out! May the 
ragin' dry thirst in my own ould bones go to you 
that you shall niver pass bottle full nor glass 
empty. God preserve the light av your onder- 
standin' to you, my jewel av a bhoy, that ye may 
niver forget what you mint to be an' do, whin 
you're wallowin' in the muck! May ye seethe 
betther and follow the worse as long as there's 
breath in your body; an' may ye die quick in a 
strange land, watchin' your death before ut takes 
you, an' onable to stir hand or foot! ' 

" 1 heard a scufflin' in the room behind, and 
thin Dinah Shadd's hand dhropped into mine like 
a rose-leaf into a muddy road. 

" ' The half av that I'll take,' sez she, ' an' more 
too if I can. Go home, ye silly talkin' woman, 
— go home an' confess.' 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd 1 57 

"'Come away! Come away!' sez Judy, 
pullin' her mother by the shawl. ''Twas none 
av Terence's fault. For the love av Mary stop 
the talkin'!' 

" ' An' you! ' said ould Mother Sheehy, spinnin' 
round forninst Dinah. ' Will ye take the half av 
that man's load.? Stand off from him, Dinah 
Shadd, before he takes you down too — you that 
look to be a quarther-master-sergeant's wife in 
five years. You look too high, child. You shall 
wash for the quarther-master-sergeant, whin he 
plases to give you the job out av charity; but a 
privit's wife you shall be to the end, an' evry 
sorrow of a privit's wife you shall know and 
nivir a joy but wan, that shall go from you like 
the running tide from a rock. The pain av 
bearin' you shall know but niver the pleasure av 
giving the breast; an' you shall put away a man- 
child into the common ground wid never a priest 
to say a prayer over him, an' on that man-child 
ye shall think ivry day av your life. Think long, 
Dinah Shadd, for you'll niver have another tho' 
you pray till your knees are bleedin'. The 
mothers av childer shall mock you behind your 
back when you're wringing over the washtub. 
You shall know what ut is to help a dhrunken 
husband home an' see him go to thegyard-room. 
Will that plase you, Dinah Shadd, that won't be 
seen talkin' to my daughter ? You shall talk to 

158 Indian Tales 

worse than Judy before all's over. The sergints' 
wives shall look down on you contemptuous, 
daughter av a sergint, an' you shall cover ut all 
up wid a smiling face when your heart's burstin'. 
Stand off av him, Dinah Shadd, for I've put the 
Black Curse of Shielygh upon him an' his own 
mouth shall make ut good.' 

"She pitched forward on her head an' began 
foamin' at the mouth. Dinah Shadd ran out wid 
water, an' Judy dhragged the ould v/oman into 
the veranda till she sat up. 

" 'I'm old an' forlore,' she sez, thremblin' an' 
cryin', ' and 'tis like I say a dale more than I 

" ' When you're able to M^alk, — go,' says ould 
Mother Shadd. 'This house has no place for 
the likes av you that have cursed my daughter.' 

" ' Eyah ! ' said the ould woman. ' Hard words 
break no bones, an' Dinah Shadd '11 keep the love 
av her husband till my bones are green corn. 
Judy darlin', I misremember what 1 came here 
for. Can you lend us the bottom av a taycup 
av tay, Mrs. Shadd .^ ' 

" But Judy dhragged her off cryin' as tho' her 
heart wud break. An' Dinah Shadd an' I, in ten 
minutes we had forgot ut all." 

"Then why do you remember it now?" 
said I. 

" Is ut like I'd forget ? Ivry word that wicked 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd j^g 

ould woman spoke fell thrue in my life afther- 
ward, an' I cud ha' stud ut all — stud ut all — ex- 
cipt when my little Shadd was born. That was 
on the line av march three months afther the 
regiment was taken with cholera. We were 
betune Umballa an' Kalka thin, an' I was on 
picket. Whin I came off duty the women 
showed me the child, an' ut turned out uts side 
an' died as ! looked. We buried him by the 
road, an' Father Victor was a day's march behind 
wid the heavy baggage, so the comp'ny captain 
read a prayer. An' since then I've been a child- 
less man, an' all else that ould Mother Sheehy 
put upon me an' Dinah Shadd. What do you 
think, sorr } " 

I thought a good deal, but it seemed better 
then to reach out for Mulvaney's hand. The 
demonstration nearly cost me the use of three 
fingers. Whatever he knows of his weaknesses, 
Mulvaney is entirely ignorant of his strength. 

"But what do you think?" he repeated, as I 
was straightening out the crushed lingers. 

My reply was drowned in yells and outcries 
from the next fire, where ten men were shouting 
for "Orth'ris," " Privit Orth'ris," " Mistah Or— 
ther — ris!" '' Deah boy," " Cap'n Orth'ris," 
"Field-Marshal Orth'ris," "Stanley, you pen'- 
north o' pop, come 'ere to your own comp'ny!" 
And the cockney, who had been delighting an- 

i6o Indian Tales 

other audience with recondite and Rabelaisian 
yarns, was shot down among his admirers by 
the major force. 

" You've crumpled my dress-shirt 'orrid," said 
he, "an' I shan't sing no more to this 'ere 
bloomin' drawin'-room." 

Learoyd, roused by the confusion, uncoiled 
himself, crept behind Ortheris, and slung him 
aloft on his shoulders. 

"Sing, ye bloomin' hummin' bird!" said he, 
and Ortheris, beating time on Learoyd's skull, 
delivered himself, in the raucous voice of the 
Ratcliffe Highway, of this song: — 

My girl she give me the go onst, 

When I was a London lad, 
An' I went on the drink for a fortnight, 

An' then I went to the bad. 
The Queen she give me a shillin' 

To fight for 'er over the seas ; 
But Guv'ment built me a fever-trap. 

An' Injia give me disease. 

Ho ! don't you 'eed what a girl says, 

An' don't you go for the beer ; 
But I was an ass when I was at grass. 

An' that is why I'm here. 

I fired a shot at a Afghan, 

The beggar 'e fired again, 
An' I lay on my bed with a 'ole in my 'ed, 

An' missed the next campaign ! 

The Courting of Dinah Shadd i6i 

I up with my gun at a Burman 

Who carried a bloomin' da/i, 
But the cartridge stuck and the bay'nit bruk, 

An' all I got was the scar. 

Ho ! don't you aim at a Afghan 

When you stand on tUe sky-line clear; 
An' don't you go for a Burman 

If none o' your friends is near. 

I served my time for a corp'ral, 

An' wetted my stripes with pop, 
For I went on the bend with a intimate friend. 

An' finished the night in the " shop." 
I served my time for a sergeant ; 

The colonel 'e sez " No ! 
The most you'll see is a full C, B." ' 

An' . . . very next night 'twas so. 

Ho ! don't you go for a corp'ral 

Unless your 'ed is clear ; 
But I was an ass when I was at grass, 

An' that is why I'm 'ere. 

I've tasted the luck o' the army 

In barrack an' camp an' cHnk, 
An' I lost my tip through the bloomin' trip 

Along o' the women an' drink. 
I'm down at the heel o' my service 

An' when I am laid on the shelf, 
My very wust friend from beginning to end 

By the blood of a mouse was myself ! 
' Confined to barracks. 

1 62 Indian Tales 


Ho ! don't you 'eed what a girl says, 

An' don't you go for the beer : 
But 1 was an ass when I was at grass, 

An' that is why I'm 'ere. 

"Ay, listen to our little man now, singin' an' 
shoutin' as tho' trouble had niver touched him. 
D' you remember when he went mad with the 
homesickness ? " said Mulvaney, recalling a 
never-to-be-forgotten season when Ortheris 
waded through the deep waters of affliction and 
behaved abominably. " But he's talkin' bitter 
truth, though. Eyah! 

" My very worst frind from beginnin' to ina 
By the blood av a mouse was mesilf ! " 

When I woke I saw Mulvaney, the night-dew 
gemming his moustache, leaning on his rifle at 
picket, lonely as Prometheus on his rock, with I 
know not what vultures tearing his liver. 


Who is the happy man ? He that sees in his own house at 
home, little children crowned with dust, leaping and falling and 
crying. — Munichandra, translated by Professor Peterson. 

THE polo-ball was an old one, scarred, chipped, 
and dinted, it stood on the mantelpiece 
among the pipe-stems which Imam Din, khitmat- 
gar, was cleaning for me. 

"Does the Heaven-born want this ball?" said 
Imam Din, deferentially. 

The Heaven-born set no particular store by it ; 
but of what use was a polo-ball to a khimatgar ? 

"By your Honor's favor, I have a little son. 
He has seen this ball, and desires it to play with. 
I do not want it for myself." 

No one would for an instant accuse portly old 
Imam Din of wanting to play with polo-balls. 
He carried out the battered thing into the veranda; 
and there followed a hurricane of joyful squeaks, 
a patter of small feet, and the thiid-thud-thud oi 
the ball rolling along the ground. Evidently the 
little son had been waiting outside the door to 
secure his treasure. But how had he managed to 
see that polo-ball ? 

Next day, coming back from office half an hour 

1 64 Indian Tales 

earlier than usual, I was aware of a small figure 
in the dining-room — a tiny, plump figure in a 
ridiculously inadequate shirt which came, per- 
haps, half-way down the tubby stomach. It 
wandered round the room, thumb in mouth, 
crooning to itself as it took stock of the pictures. 
Undoubtedly this was the "little son." 

He had no business in my room, of cours-^; but 
was so deeply absorbed in his discoveries that he 
never noticed me in the doorway. I stepped into 
the room and startled him nearly into a fit. He 
sat down on the ground with a gasp. His eyes 
opened, and his mouth followed suit. I knew 
what was coming, and fled, followed by a long, 
dry howl which reached the servants' quarters 
far more quickly than any command of mine had 
ever done. In ten seconds Imam Din was in the 
dining-r jom. Then despairing sobs arose, and I 
returned to find Imam Din admonishing the small 
sinner who was using most of his shirt as a hand- 

"This boy," said Imam Din, judicially, "is a 
biidmash — a big biidmash. He will, without 
doubt, go to the jail-hhana for his behavior." 
Renewed yells from the penitent, and an elab- 
orate apology to myself from Imam Din. 

"Tell the baby," said I, "that the Sahib is not 
angry, and take him away," Imam Din conveyed 
my forgiveness to the offender, who had now 

The Story of Muhammad Din 165 

gathered all his shirt round his neck, stringwise, 
and the yell subsided into a sob. The two set 
off for the door. "His name," said Imam Din, 
as though the name were part of the crime, "is 
Muhammad Din, and he is a budmash." Freed 
from present danger, Muhammad Din turned 
round in his father's arms, and said gravely, "It 
is true that my name is Muhammad Din, Tahib, 
but 1 am not a budmash. 1 am a man ! " 

From that day dated my acquaintance with 
Muhammad Din. Never again did he come into 
my dining-room, but on the neutral ground of 
the garden, we greeted each other with much 
state, though our conversation was confined to 
" Talaam, Tahib" from his side, and ''Salaam, 
Muhammad Din " from mine. Daily on my re- 
turn from office, the little white shirt, and the fat 
little body used to rise from the shade of the 
creeper-covered trellis where they had been hid ; 
and daily I checked my horse here, that my salu- 
tation might not be slurred over or given un- 

Muhammad Din never had any companions. 
He used to trot about the compound, in and out 
of the castor-oil bushes, on mysterious errands of 
his own. One day I stumbled upon some of his 
handiwork far down the grounds. He had half 
buried the polo-ball in dust, and stuck six shriv- 
eled old marigold flowers in a circle round it. 

1 66 Indian Tales 

Outside that circle again was a rude square, traced 
out in bits of red brick alternating with fragments 
of broken china; the whole bounded by a little 
bank of dust. The water-man from the well- 
curb put in a plea for the small architect, saying 
that it was only the play of a baby and did not 
much disfigure my garden. 

Heaven knows that 1 had no intention of touch- 
ing the child's work then or later; but, that even- 
ing, a stroll through the garden brought me una- 
wares full on it; so that 1 trampled, before I knew, 
marigold-heads, dust-bank, and fragments of 
broken soap-dish into confusion past all hope of 
mending. Next morning, I came upon Muham- 
mad Din crying softly to himself over the ruin I 
had wrought. Some one had cruelly told him 
that the Sahib was very angry with him for spoil- 
ing the garden, and had scattered his rubbish, 
using bad language the while. Muhammad Din 
labored for an hour at effacing every trace of the 
dust-bank and pottery fragments, and it was with 
a tearful and apologetic face that he said " Talaam, 
Tahib," when I came home from office. A hasty 
inquiry resulted in Imam Din informing Muham- 
mad Din that, by my singular favor, he was per- 
mitted to disport himself as he pleased. Whereat 
the child took heart and fell to tracing the ground- 
plan of an edifice v/hich was to eclipse the mari- 
gold-polo-ball creation. 

7he Story of Muhammad Din 167 

For some months, the chubby little eccentricity 
revolved in his humble orbit among the castor- 
oil bushes and in the dust; always fashioning 
magnificent palaces from stale flowers thrown 
away by the bearer, smooth water-worn pebbles, 
bits of broken glass, and feathers pulled, 1 fancy, 
from my fowls — always alone, and always 
crooning to himself. 

A gaily-spotted sea-shell was dropped one day 
close to the last of his little buildings; and I 
looked that Muhammad Din should build some- 
thing more than ordinarily splendid on the 
strength of it. Nor was I disappointed. He 
meditated for the better part of an hour, and his 
crooning rose to a jubilant song. Then he began 
tracing in the dust, it would certainly be a 
wondrous palace, this one, for it was two yards 
long and a yard broad in ground-plan. But the 
palace was never completed. 

Next day there was no Muhammad Din at the 
head of the carriage-drive, and no " Talaam, 
Tahib" to welcome my return. I had grown 
accustomed to the greeting, and its omission 
troubled me. Next day Imam Din told me that 
the child was suffering slightly from fever and 
needed quinine. He got the medicine, and an 
English Doctor. 

"They have no stamina, these brats," said the 
Doctor, as he left Imam Din's quarters. 

i68 Indian Tales 

A week later, though I would have given much 
to have avoided it, 1 met on the road to the 
Mussulman burying-ground Imam Din, accom- 
panied by one other friend, carrying in his arms, 
wrapped in a white cloth, all that was left of 
little Muhammad Din. 


Tweed said tae Till : 

"What gars ye rin sae Still?" 

Till said tae Tweed : 

" Though ye rin wi' speed 

An' I rin slaw — 

Yet where ye droon ae man 

I droon twa." 

THERE is no getting over the river to-night, 
Sahib. They say that a bullock-cart has 
been washed down already, and the ekka that 
went over a half hour before you came, has not 
yet reached the far side. Is the Sahib in haste ? 
1 will drive the ford-elephant in to show him. 
Ohe, mahout there in the shed! Bring out Ram 
Pershad, and if he will face the current, good. 
An elephant never lies, Sahib, and Ram Pershad 
is separated from his friend Kala Nag. He, too, 
wishes to cross to the far side. Well done! 
Well done! my King! Go half way across, 
mahoutji, and see what the river says. Well 
done. Ram Pershad! Pearl among elephants, go 
into the river! Hit him on the head, fool! Was 
the goad made only to scratch thy own fat back 
with, bastard.^ Strike! Strike! What are the 

1 70 Indian Tales 

boulders to thee, Ram Pershad, my Rustum, my 
mountain of strength ? Go in!" Go in! 

No, Sahib! It is useless. You can hear him 
trumpet. He is telling Kala Nag ihat he cannot 
come over. See! He has swung round and is 
shaking his head. He is no fool. He knows 
what the Barhwi means when it is angry. Aha! 
Indeed, thou art no fool, my child! Salaam, 
Ram Pershad, Bahadur! Take him under the 
trees, mahout, and see that he gets his spices. 
Well done, thou chief est among tuskers. Salaam 
to the Sirkar and go to sleep. 

What is to be done ? The Sahib must wait till 
the river goes down, it will shrink to-morrow 
morning, if God pleases, or the day after at the 
latest. Now why does the Sahib get so angry ? 
I am his servant. Before God, / did not create 
this stream! What can I do? My hut and all 
that is therein is at the service of the Sahib, and 
it is beginning to rain. Come away, my Lord. 
How will the river go dov/n for your throwing 
abuse at it ? In the old days the English people 
were not thus. The fire-carriage has made them 
soft. In the old days, when they drave behind 
horses by day or by night, they said naught if a 
river barred the way, or a carriage sat down in 
the mud. It was the will of God — not like a 
fire-carriage which goes and goes and goes, and 
would go though all the devils in the land hung 

In Flood Time 171 

on to its tail. The fire-carriage hath spoiled the 
English people. After all, what is a day lost, or, 
for that matter, what are two days ? Is the 
Sahib going to his own wedding, that he is so 
mad with haste? Ho! Ho! Ho! I am an old 
man and see few Sahibs. Forgive me if 1 have 
forgotten the respect that is due to them. The 
Sahib is not angry } 

His own wedding! Ho! Ho! Ho! The 
mind of an old man is like the nnmah-tree. 
Fruit, bud, blossom, and the dead leaves of all 
the years of the past flourish together. Old and 
new and that which is gone out of remembrance, 
all three are there! Sit on the bedstead. Sahib, 
and drink milk. Or — would the Sahib in truth 
care to drink my tobacco ? It is good. It is the 
tobacco of Nuklao. My son, who is in service 
there sent it to me. Drink, then, Sahib, if you 
know how to handle the tube. The Sahib takes 
it like a Musalman. Wah! Wah! Where did 
he learn that .^ His own wedding! Ho! Ho! 
Ho! The Sahib says that there is no wedding 
in the matter at all ? Now is it likely that the 
Sahib would speak true talk to me who am only 
a black man ? Sm.all wonder, then, that he is in 
haste. Thirty years have I beaten the gong at 
this ford, but never have I seen a Sahib in such 
haste. Thirty years, Sahib! That is a very long 
time. Thirty years ago this ford was on the 

172 Indian Tales 

track of the bunjaras, and I have seen two thou- 
sand pack-bullocks cross in one night. Now the 
rai\ has come, and the fire-carriage says bui-bui- 
bu^, and a hundred lakhs of maunds slide across 
that big bridge. It is very wonderful; but the 
ford is lonely now that there are no bunjaras to 
camp under the trees. 

Nay, do not trouble to look at the sky without. 
It will rain till the dawn. Listen! The boulders 
are talking to-night in the bed of the river. Hear 
them! They would be husking your bones. Sa- 
hib, had you tried to cross. See, I will shut the 
door and no rain can enter. IVahi! Ahi! Ugh! 
Thirty years on the banks of the ford! An old 
man am I and — where is the oil for the lamp ? 

Your pardon, but, because of my years, I sleep 
no sounder than a dog; and you moved to the 
door. Look then, Sahib. Look and listen. A 
full half kos from bank to bank is the stream 
now — you can see it under the stars — and there 
are ten feet of water therein. It will not shrink 
because of the anger in your eyes, and it will not 
be quiet on account of your curses. Which is 
louder, Sahib — your voice or the voice of the 
river ? Call to it — perhaps it will be ashamed. 
Lie down and sleep afresh, Sahib. I know the 
anger of the Barhwi when there has fallen rain 

In Flood Time 173 

in the foot-hills. I swam the flood, once, on a 
night tenfold worse than this, and by the Favor 
of God I was released from Death when I had 
come to the very gates thereof. 

May I tell the tale? Very good talk. I will 
fill the pipe anew. 

Thirty years ago it was, when 1 was a young 
man and had but newly come to the ford. 1 was 
strong then, and the buiijaras had no doubt when 
I said "this ford is clear." 1 have toiled all night 
up to my shoulder-blades in running water amid 
a hundred bullocks mad with fear, and have 
brought them across losing not a hoof. When 
all was done I fetched the shivering men, and 
they gave me for reward the pick of their cattle 
— the bell-bullock of the drove. So great was 
the honor in which I was held! But, to-day 
when the rain falls and the river rises, I creep into 
my hut and whimper like a dog. My strength is 
gone from me. I am an old man and the fire- 
carriage has made the ford desolate. They were 
wont to call me the Strong One of the Barhwi. 

Behold my face, Sahib — it is the face of a 
monkey. And my arm — it is the arm of an old 
woman. I swear to you, Sahib, that a woman 
has loved this face and has rested in the hollow 
of this arm. Twenty years ago, Sahib. Believe 
me, this was true talk — twenty years ago. 

Come to the door and look across. Can you 

J 74 Indian Tales 

see a thin fire very far away dov/n the stream ? 
That is the temple-fire, in the shrine of Hanuman, 
of the village of Pateera. North, under the big 
star, is the village itself, but it is hidden by a 
bend of the river. Is that far to swim, Sahib ? 
Would you take off your clothes and adventure ? 
Yet 1 swam to Pateera — not once but many times; 
and there are muggers in the river too. 

Love knows no caste; else why should I, a 
Musalman and the son of a Musalman, have 
sought a Hindu woman — a widow of the Hindus 
— the sister of the headman of Pateera ? But it 
was even so. They of the headman's household 
came on a pilgrimage to Muttra when She was 
but newly a bride. Silver tires were upon the 
wheels of the bullock-cart, and silken curtains 
hid the woman. Sahib, I made no haste in their 
conveyance, for the wind parted the curtains and 
I saw Her. When they returned from pilgrimage 
the boy that was Her husband had died, and I 
saw Her again in the bullock-cart. By God, 
these Hindus are fools! What was it to me 
whether She was Hindu or Jain — scavenger, 
leper, or whole.? I would have married Her and 
made Her a home by the ford. The Seventh of 
the Nine Bars says that a man may not marry 
one of the idolaters .? Is that truth ? Both Shiahs 
and Sunnis say that a Musalman may not marry 
one of the idolaters ? Is the Sahib a priest, then, 

In Flood Time 175 

that he knows so much ? ! will tell him some- 
thing that he does not know. There is neither 
Shiah nor Sunni, forbidden nor idolater, in Love; 
and the Nine Bars are but nine little fagots that 
the flame of Love utterly burns away. In truth, 
I would have taken Her; but what could I do? 
The headman would have sent his men to break 
my head with staves. I am not — I was not — 
afraid of any five men; but against half a village 
who can prevail ? 

Therefore it was my custom, these things hav- 
ing been arranged betv/een us twain, to go by 
night to the village of Pateera, and there we met 
among the crops; no man knowing aught of the 
matter. Behold, now! I was wont to cross here, 
skirting the jungle to the river bend where the 
railway bridge is, and thence across the elbow of 
land to Pateera. The light of the shrine was my 
guide when the nights were dark. That jungle 
near the river is very full of snakes — little karaits 
that sleep on the sand — and moreover, Her broth- 
ers would have slain me had they found me in 
the crops. But none knew — none knew save 
She and I; and the blown sand of the river-bed 
covered the track of my feet. In the hot months 
it was an easy thing to pass from the ford to 
Pateera, and in the first Rains, when the river 
rose slowly, it was an easy thing also. I set the 
strength of my body against the strength of the 

176 Indian Tales 

stream, and nightly I ate in my hut here and 
drank at Pateera yonder. She had said that one 
Hirnam Singh, a thief, had sought Her, and he 
was of a village up the river but on the same 
bank. All Sikhs are dogs, and they have refused 
in their folly that good gift of God — tobacco. 1 
was ready to destroy Hirnam Singh tnat ever he 
had come nigh Her; and the more because he had 
sworn to Her that She had a lover, and that he 
would He in wait and give the name to the head- 
man unless She went away with him. What curs 
are these Sikhs! 

After that news, I swam always with a little 
sharp knife in my belt, and evil would it have 
been for a man had he stayed me. I knew not 
the face of Hirnam Singh, but I would have killed 
any who came between me and Her. 

Upon a night in the beginning of the Rains, I 
was minded to go across to Pateera, albeit the 
river was angry. Now the nature of the Barhwi 
is this. Sahib. !n twenty breaths it comes down 
from the Hills, a wall three feet high, and I have 
seen it, between the lighting of a fire and the 
cooking of a chupatty, grow from a runnel to a 
sister of the Jumna. 

When ' left this bank there was a shoal a half 
mile down, and I made shift to fetch it and draw 
breath there ere going forward; for I felt the 
hands ci the river heavy upon my heels. Yet 

k Flood Time ijy 

what will a young man not do for Love's sake? 
There was but little light from the stars, and mid- 
way to the shoal a branch of the stinking deodar 
tree brushed my mouth as I swam. That was a 
sign of heavy rain in the foot-hills and beyond, 
tor the deodar is a strong tree, not easily shaken 
from the hillsides. 1 made haste, the river aid- 
ing me, but ere I had touched the shoal, the pulse 
of the stream beat, as it were, within me and 
around, and, behold, the shoal was gone and I 
rode high on the crest of a wave that ran from 
bank to bank. Has the Sahib ever been cast into 
much water that fights and will not let a man use 
his limbs ? To me, my head upon the water, it 
seemed as though there were naught but water 
to the world's end, and the river drave me with 
its driftwood. A man is a very little thing in the 
belly of a flood. And this flood, though I knew 
it not, was the Great Flood about which men 
talk still. My liver was dissolved and 1 lay like 
a log upon my back in the fear of Death. There 
were living things in the water, crying and howl- 
ing grievously — beasts of the forest and cattle, 
and once the voice of a man asking for help. 
But the rain came and lashed the water white, 
and 1 heard no more save the roar of the boulders 
below and the roar of the rain above. Thus I 
was whirled down-stream, wrestling for the 
breath in me. It is very hard to die when one is 

1 78 Indian Tales 

young. Can the Sahib, standing here, see the 
railway bridge ? Look, there are the lights of 
the mail-train going to Peshawur! The bridge is 
now twenty feet above the river, but upon that 
night the water was roaring against the lattice- 
work and against the lattice came I feet first. 
But much driftwood was piled there and upon 
the piers, and 1 took no great hurt. Only the 
river pressed me as a strong man presses a 
weaker. Scarcely could I take hold of the lattice- 
work and crawl to the upper boom. Sahib, the 
water was foaming across the rails a foot deep! 
Judge therefore what manner of flood it must 
have been. I could not hear. I could not see. 
I could but lie on the boom and pant for breath. 
After a while the rain ceased and there came 
out in the sky certain new washed stars, and by 
their light I saw that there was no end to the 
black water as far as the eye could travel, and 
the water had risen upon the rails. There were 
dead beasts in the driftwood on the piers, and 
others caught by the neck in the lattice-work, 
and others not yet drowned who strove to find a 
foothold on the lattice-work — buffaloes and kine, 
and wild pig, and deer one or two, and snakes 
and jackals past all counting. Their bodies were 
black upon the left side of the bridge, but the 
smaller of them were forced through the lattice- 
work and whirled down-stream. 

In Flood Time 179 

Thereafter the stars died and the rain came 
down afresh and the river rose yet more, and I 
felt the bridge begin to stir under me as a man 
stirs in his sleep ere he wakes. But 1 was not 
afraid, Sahib. 1 swear to you that I was not 
afraid, though I had no power in my limbs. I 
knew that I should not die till I had seen Her 
once more. But I was very cold, and I felt that 
the bridge must go. 

There was a trembling in the water, such a 
trembling as goes before the coming of a great 
wave, and the bridge lifted its flank to the rush 
of that coming so that the right lattice dipped 
under water and the left rose clear. On my 
beard, Sahib, I am speaking God's truth! Asa 
Mirzapore stone-boat careens to the wind, so the 
Barhwi Bridge turned. Thus and in no other 

1 slid from the boom into deep water, and be- 
hind me came the wave of the wrath of the river. 
I heard its voice and the screami of the middle 
part of the bridge as it moved from the piers and 
sank, and I knew no more till I rose in the 
middle of the great flood. I put forth my hand 
to swim, and lo! it fell upon the knotted hair of 
the head of a man. He was dead, for no one 
but I, the Strong One of Barhwi, could have 
lived in that race. He had been dead full two 
days, for he rode high, wallowing, and was an 

l8o Indian Tales 

aid to me. I laughed then, knowing for a surety 
that I should yet see Her and take no harm ; and 1 
twisted my fingers in the hair of the man, for 1 
was far spent, and together we went down the 
stream — he the dead and I the living. Lacking 
that help I should have sunk: the cold was in my 
marrow, and my flesh was ribbed and sodden on 
my bones. But he had no fear who had known 
the uttermost of the power of the river; and 1 let 
him go where he chose. At last we came into 
the power of a side-current that set to the right 
bank, and I strove with my feet to draw with it. 
But the dead man swung heavily in the whirl, 
and I feared that some branch had struck him 
and that he would sink. The tops of the tama- 
risk brushed my knees, so 1 knew we v/ere come 
into flood-water above the crops, and, after, I let 
down my legs and felt bottom — the ridge of a 
field — and, after, the dead man stayed upon a 
knoll under a fig-tree, and ! drew my body from 
the water rejoicing. 

Does the Sahib know whither the backwash of 
the flood had borne me } To the knoll which is 
the eastern boundary-mark of the village of 
Pateera! No other place. 1 drew the dead man 
up on the grass for the service that he had done 
me, and also because I knew not whether I 
should need him again. Then I went, crying 
thrice like a jackal, to the appointed place which 

In Flood Time i8i 

was near the byre of the headman's house. But 
my Love was already there, weeping. She 
feared that the flood had swept my hut at the 
Barhwi Ford. When I came softly through the 
ankle-deep water, She thought it was a ghost and 
would have fled, but 1 put my arms round Her, 
and — I was no ghost in those days, though I am 
an old man now. Ho! Ho! Dried corn, in 
truth. Maize without juice. Ho! Ho!^ 

I told Her the story of the breaking of the 
Barhwi Bridge, and She said that I was greater 
than mortal man, for none may cross the Barhwi 
in full flood, and I had seen what never man had 
seen before. Hand in hand we went to the 
knoll where the dead lay, and I showed Her by 
what help I had made the ford. She looked also 
upon the body under the stars, for the latter end 
of the night was clear, and hid Her face in Her 
hands, crying: "It is the body of Hirnam 
Singh!" I said: "The swine is of more use 
dead than living, my Beloved," and She said: 
" Surely, for he has saved the dearest life in the 
world to my love. None the less, he cannot 
stay here, for that would bring shame upon me." 
The body was not a gunshot from her door. 

Then said I, rolling the body with my hands: 
"God hath judged between us, Hirnam Singh, 

' I grieve to say that the Warden of Barhwi ford is re- 
sponsible here for two very bad puns in the vernacular. — R. K. 

1 82 Indian Tales 

that thy blood might not be upon my head. 
Now, whether I have done thee a wrong in 
keeping thee from the burning-ghat, do thou and 
the crows settle together." So 1 cast him adrift 
into the flood-water, and he was drawn out to 
the open, ever wagging his thick black beard like 
a priest under the pulpit-board. And 1 saw no 
more of Hirnam Singh. 

Before the breaking of the day we two parted, 
and I moved toward such of the jungle as was 
not flooded. With the full light I saw what I had 
done in the darkness, and the bones of my body 
were loosened in my flesh, for there ran two Jws 
of raging water between the village of Pateera 
and the trees of the far bank, and, in the middle, 
the piers of the Barhwi Bridge showed like 
broken teeth in the jaw of an old man. Nor was 
there any life upon the waters — neither birds 
nor boats, but only an army of drowned things 
— bullocks and horses and men — and the river 
was redder than blood from the clay of the foot- 
hills. Never had i seen such a flood — never 
since that year have I seen the like — and, O 
Sahib, no man living had done what I had done. 
There was no return for me that day. Not for 
all the lands of the headman would I venture a 
second time without the shield of darkness that 
cloaks danger. I went a kos up the river to the 
house of a blacksmith, saying that the flood had 

In Flood Time 183 

swept me from my hut, and they gave me food. 
Seven days I stayed with the blacksmith, till a 
boat came and 1 returned to my house. There 
was no trace of wall, or roof, or floor — naught 
but a patch of slimy mud. Judge, therefore, 
Sahib, how far the river must have risen. 

It was written that 1 should not die either in 
my house, or in the heart of the Barhwi, or 
under the wreck of the Barhwi Bridge, for God 
sent down Hirnam Singh two days dead, though 
I know not how the man died, to be my buoy 
and support. Hirnam Singh has been in Hell 
these twenty years, and the thought of that night 
must be the flower of his torment. 

Listen, Sahib! The river has changed its voice. 
It is going to sleep before the dawn, to which 
there is yet one hour. With the light it will 
come down afresh. How do 1 know ? Have I 
been here thirty years without knowing the voice 
of the river as a father knows the voice of his 
son ? Every moment it is talking less angrily. I 
swear that there will be no danger for one hour 
or, perhaps, two. I cannot answer for the morn- 
ing. Be quick. Sahib! I will call Ram Pershad, 
and he will not turn back this time. Is the 
paulin tightly corded upon all the baggage "? 
Ohe, mahout with a mud head, the elephant for 
the Sahib, and tell them on the far side that there 
will be no crossing after daylight. 

184 Indian Tales 

Money? Nay, Sahib. I am not of that kind. 
No, not even to give sweetmeats to the baby- 
folk. My house, look you, is empty, and I am 
an old man. 

Dtttt, Ram Pershad! Diitt ! Duit! Duttl 
Good luck go with you, Sahib. 


As I came through the Desert thus it was — 
As I came through the Desert. 

— The City of Dreadful Night. 

SOMEWHERE in the Other World, where 
there are books and pictures and plays 
and shop-windows to look at, and thousands 
of men who spend their lives in building up all 
four, lives a gentleman who writes real stories 
about the real insides of people; and his name 
is Mr. Walter Besant. But he will insist upon 
treating his ghosts — he has published half a 
workshopful of them — with levity. He makes 
his ghost-seers talk familiarly, and, in some cases, 
flirt outrageously, with the phantoms. You may 
treat anything, from a Viceroy to a Vernacular 
Paper, with levity; but you must behave rever- 
ently toward a ghost, and particularly an Indian 

There are, in this land, ghosts who take the 
form of fat, cold, pobby corpses, and hide in trees 
near the roadside till a traveler passes. Then 
they drop upon his neck and remain. There are 
also terrible ghosts of women who have died in 
child-bed. These wander along the pathways at 

1 86 Indian Tales 

dusk, or hide in the crops near a village, and call 
seductively. But to answer their call is death in 
this world and the next. Their feet are turned 
backward that all sober men may recognize 
them. There are ghosts of little children who 
have been thrown into wells. These haunt well- 
curbs and the fringes of jungles, and wail under 
the stars, or catch women by the wrist and beg 
to be taken up and carried. These and the 
corpse-ghosts, however, are only vernacular ar- 
ticles and do not attack Sahibs. No native ghost 
has yet been authentically reported to have 
frightened an Englishman; but many English 
ghosts have scared the life out of both white and 

Nearly every other Station owns a ghost. 
There are said to be two at Simla, not counting 
the woman who blows the bellows at Syree dak- 
bungalow on the Old Road; Mussoorie has a 
house haunted of a very lively Thing; a White 
Lady is supposed to do night-watchman round a 
house in Lahore; Dalhousie says that one of her 
houses "repeats" on autumn evenings all the in- 
cidents of a horrible horse-and-precipice acci- 
dent; Murree has a merry ghost, and, now that 
she has been swept by cholera, will have room. 
for a sorrowful one; there are Officers' Quarters 
in Mian Mir whose doors open without reason, 
and whose furniture is guaranteed to creak, not 

My Own True Ghost Story i^j 

with the heat of June but with the weight of In- 
visibles who come to lounge in the chair; Pesha- 
wur possesses houses that none will willingly 
rent; and there is something — not fever — wrong 
with a big bungalow in Allahabad. The older 
Provinces simply bristle with haunted houses, 
and march phantom armies along their main 

Some of the dak-bungalows on the Grand 
Trunk Road have handy little cemeteries in their 
compound — witnesses to the "changes and 
chances of this mortal life" in the days when 
men drove from Calcutta to the Northwest. 
These bungalows are objectionable places to put 
up in. They are generally very old, always 
dirty, while the khansamah is as ancient as the 
bungalow. He either chatters senilely, or falls 
into the long trances of age. In both moods he 
is useless. If you get angry with him, he refers 
to some Sahib dead and buried these thirty years, 
and says that when he was in that Sahib's service 
not a khansamah in the Province could touch 
him Then he jabbers and mows and trembles 
and fidgets among the dishes, and you repent of 
your irritation. 

In these dak-bungalows, ghosts are most likely 
to be found, and when found, they should be 
made a note of. Not long ago it was my busi- 
ness to live in dak-bungalows, I never inhabited 

1 88 Indian Tales 

the same house for three nights running, and 
grew to be learned in the breed. 1 lived in 
Government-built ones with red brick walls and 
rail ceilings, an inventory of the furniture posted 
in every room, and an excited snake at the 
threshold to give welcome. 1 lived in "con- 
verted " ones — old houses officiating as dak-bun- 
galows — where nothing was in its proper place 
and there wasn't even a fowl for dinner. I lived 
in second-hand palaces where the wind blew 
through open-work marble tracery just as un- 
comfortably as through a broken pane. I lived 
in dak-bungalows where the last entry in the 
visitors' book was fifteen months old, and where 
they slashed off the curry-kid's head with a 
sword. It was my good-luck to meet all sorts of 
men, from sober traveling missionaries and 
deserters flying from British Regiments, to 
drunken loafers who threw whiskey bottles at all 
who passed; and my still greater good-fortune 
just to escape a maternity case. Seeing that a 
fair proportion of the tragedy of our lives out 
here acted itself in dak-bungalows, I wondered 
that I had met no ghosts. A ghost that would 
voluntarily hang about a dak-bungalow would 
be mad of course; but so many men have died 
mad in dak-bungalows that there must be a fair 
percentage of lunatic ghosts. 
In due time I found my ghost, or ghosts rather. 

My Own True Ghost Story 189 

for there were two of them. Up till that hour I 
had sympathized with Mr. Besant's method of 
handling them, as shown in " The Strange Case 
of Mr. Lucraft and other Stories." I am now 
in the Opposition. 

We will call the bungalow Katmal dak-bunga- 
low. But that was the smallest part of the 
horror. A man with a sensitive hide has no 
right to sleep in dak-bungalows. He should 
marry. Katmal dak-bungalow was old and 
rotten and unrepaired. The floor was of worn 
brick, the walls were filthy, and the windows 
were nearly black with grime. It stood on a by- 
path largely used by native Sub-Deputy Assist- 
ants of all kinds, from Finance to Forests; but 
real Sahibs were rare. The khansamah, who 
was nearly bent double with old age, said so. 

When I arrived, there was a fitful, undecided 
rain on the face of the land, accompanied by a 
restless wind, and every gust made a noise like 
the rattling of dry bones in the stiff toddy-palms 
outside. The khansamah completely lost his 
head on my arrival. He had served a Sahib once. 
Did I know that Sahib ? He gave me the name 
of a well-known man who has been buried for 
more than a quarter of a century, and showed 
me an ancient daguerreotype of that man in his 
prehistoric youth. 1 had seen a steel engraving 
of him at the head of a double volume of Mem- 

190 Indian Tales 

oirs a month before, and I felt ancient beyond 

The day shut in and the khansamah went to 
get me food. He did not go through the pre- 
tence of calling it "khana" — man's victuals. 
He said "raiiib" and that means, among other 
things, "grub" — dog's rations. There was no 
insult in his choice of the term. He had for- 
gotten the other word, I suppose. 

While he was cutting up the dead bodies of 
animals, I settled myself down, after exploring 
the dak-bungalow. There were three rooms, 
beside my own, which was a corner kenne!, each 
giving into the other through dingy white doors 
fastened with long iron bars. The bungalow 
was a very solid one, but the partition-walls of 
the rooms were almost jerry-built in their fiimsi- 
ness. Every step or bang of a trunk echoed 
from my room down the other three, and -very 
footfall came back tremulously from the far 
walls. For this reason 1 shut the door. There 
were no lamps — only candles in long glass shades. 
An oil wick was set in the bath-room. 

For bleak, unadulterated misery that dak- 
bungalow was the worst of the many that 1 had 
ever set foot in. There was no fireplace, and 
the windows would not open; so a brazier of 
charcoal would have been useless. The rain and 
the wind splashed and gurgled and moaned round 

My Own True Ghost Story 191 

the house, and the toddy-palms rattled and 
roared. Half a dozen jackals went through the 
compound singing, and a hyena stood afar off 
and mocked them. A hyena would convince a 
Sadducee of the Resurrection of the Dead — the 
worst sort of Dead. Then came the ratub — a 
curious meal, half native and half English in 
composition — with the old khansamah babbling 
behind my chair about dead and gone English 
people, and the wind-blown candles playing 
shadow-bo-peep with the bed and the mosquito- 
curtains. It was just the sort of dinner and 
evening to make a man think of every single one 
of his past sins, and of all the others that he in- 
tended to commit if he lived. 

Sleep, for several hundred reasons, was not 
easy. The lamp in the bath-room threw the 
most absurd shadows into the room, and the 
wind was beginning to talk nonsense. 

Just when the reasons were drowsy with 
blood-sucking I heard the regular — " Let-us-take- 
and-heave-him-over " grunt of doolie-bearers in 
the compound. First one doolie came in, then a 
second, and then a third. I heard the doolies 
dumped on the ground, and the shutter in front 
of my door shook. ** That's some one trying to 
come in," 1 said. But no one spoke, and I per- 
suaded myself that it was the gusty wind. The 
shutter of the room next to mine was attacked, 

192 Inaian Tales 

flung back, and the inner door opened. " That's 
some Sub-Deputy Assistant," I said, " and he has 
brought his friends with him. Now they'll talk 
and spit and smoke for an hour." 

But there were no voices and no footsteps. 
No one was putting his luggage into the next 
room. The door shut, and 1 thanked Providence 
that I was to be left in peace. But I was curious 
to know where the doolies had gone. 1 got out 
of bed and looked into the darkness. There was 
never a sign of a doolie, just as 1 was getting 
into bed again, I heard, in the next room, the 
sound that no man in his senses can possibly mis- 
take — the whir of a billiard ball down the length 
of the slates when the striker is stringing for 
break. No other sound is like it. A minute 
afterward there was another whir, and I got into 
bed. I was not frightened — indeed I was not. 
I was very curious to know what had become of 
the doolies. I jumped into bed for that reason. 

Next minute 1 heard the double click of a can- 
non and my hair sat up. It is a mistake to say 
that hair stands up. The skin of the head tight- 
ens and you can feel a faint, prickly bristling all 
over the scalp. That is the hair sitting up. 

There was a whir and a click, and both sounds 
could only have been m.ade by one thing — a bil- 
liard ball. I argued the matter rut at great 
length with myself; and the more I argued the 

My Own True Ghost Story 193 

less probable it seemed that one bed, one table, 
and two chairs — all the furniture of the room 
next to mine — could so exactly duplicate the 
sounds of a game of billiards. After another 
cannon, a three-cushion one to judge by the whir, 
I argued no more. I had found my ghost and 
would have given worlds to have escaped from 
that dak-bungalow. I listened, and with each 
listen the game grew clearer. There was whir 
on whir and click on click. Sometimes there 
was a double click and a whir and another click. 
Beyond any sort of doubt, people were playing 
billiards in the next room. And the next room 
was not big enough to hold a billiard table! 

Between the pauses of the wind 1 heard the 
game go forward — stroke after stroke. I tried 
to believe that I could not hear voices; but that 
attempt was a failure. 

Do you know what fear is ? Not ordinary fear 
of insult, injury or death, but abject, quivering 
dread of something that you cannot see — fear 
that dries the inside of the mouth and half of the 
throat — fear that makes you sweat on the palms 
of the hands, and gulp in order to keep the 
uvula at work? This is a fine Fear — a great 
cowardice, and must be felt to be appreciated. 
The very improbability of billiards in a dak- 
bungalow proved the reality of the thing. No 
man — drunk or sober — could imagine a game a 

194 Indian Tales 

billiards, or invent the spitting crack of a " screw- 

A severe course of dak-bungalows has this 
disadvantage — it breeds infinite credulity. If a 
man said to a confirmed dak-bungalow-haunter: 
— "There is a corpse in the next room, and 
there's a mad girl in the next but one, and the 
woman and man on that camel have just eloped 
from a place sixty miles away," the hearer would 
not disbelieve because he would know that noth- 
ing is too wild, grotesque, or horrible to happen 
in a dak-bungalow. 

This credulity, unfortunately, extends to 
ghosts. A rational person fresh from his own 
house would have turned on his side and slept 
1 did not. So surely as I was given up as a bad 
carcass by the scores of things in the bed because 
the bulk of my blood was in my heart, so surely 
did I hear every stroke of a long game at bil- 
liards played in the echoing room behind the 
iron-barred door. My dominant fear was that 
the players might want a maker. It was an ab- 
surd fear; because creatures who could play in 
the dark would be above such superfluities. I 
only know that that was my terror; and it was 

After a long long while, the game stopped, and 
the door banged. 1 slept because I was dead tired. 
Otherwise I should have preferred to have kept 

My Own True Ghost Story i95 

awake. Not for everything in Asia would I have 
dropped the door-bar and peered into the dark of 
the next room. 

When the morning came, I considered that I 
had done well and wisely, and inquired for the 
means of departure. 

" By the way, khaiisamaJi," I said, " what were 
those three doolies doing in my compound in the 

"There were no doolies," said the khansainah. 

I went into the next room and the daylight 
streamed through the open door. I was im- 
mensely brave. 1 would, at that hour, have 
played Black Pool with the owner of the big 
Black Pool down below. 

" Has this place always been a dak-bunga- 
low } " I asked. 

" No," said the hhansamah. " Ten or twenty 
years ago, I have forgotten how long, it was a 

" A how much ? " 

"A billiard-room for the Sahibs who built the 
Railway. I was khansamah then in the big 
house where all the Railway-Sahibs lived, and I 
used to come across with brandy-sAr^^. These 
three rooms were all one, and they held a big 
table on which the Sahibs played every evening. 
But the Sahibs are all dead now, and the Raiiway 
cuns, you say, nearly to Kabul." 

196 Indian Tales 

" Do you remember anything about the 
Sahibs ? " 

"It is long ago, but I remember that one 
Sahib, a fat man and always angry, was playing 
here one night, and he said to me: — • Mangal 
Khan, brandy-pa in do,' and 1 filled the glass, and 
he bent over the table to strike, and his head fell 
lower and lower till it hit the table, and his 
spectacles came off, and when we — the Sahibs 
and I myself — ran to lift him he was dead. I 
helped to carry him out. Aha, he was a strong 
Sahib! But he is dead and I, old Mangal Khan, 
am still living, by your favor." 

That was more than enough! I had my ghost 
— a first-hand, authenticated article. I would 
write to the Society for Psychical Research — I 
would paralyze the Empire with the news! But 
I would, first of all, put eighty miles of assessed 
crop-land between myself and that dak-bunga- 
low before nightfall. The Society might send 
their regular agent to investigate later on. 

I went into my own room and prepared to 
pack after noting down the facts of the case. 
As 1 smoked I heard the game begin again — 
with a miss in balk this time, for the whir was a 
short one. 

The door was open and I could see into the 
room. Cl/ck — click! That was a cannon. 1 
entered the room without fear, for there was 

My Own True Ghost Story 197 

sunlight within and a fresh breeze without. The 
unseen game was going on at a tremendous rate. 
And well it might, when a restless little rat was 
running to and fro inside the dingy ceiling-cloth, 
and a piece of loose window-sash was making 
fifty breaks off the window-bolt as it shook in 
the breeze! 

Impossible to mistake the sound of billiard 
balls! Impossible to mistake the whir of a ball 
over the slate! But I was to be excused. Even 
when I shut my enlightened eyes the sound was 
marvelously like that of a fast game. 

Entered angrily the faithful partner of my sor- 
rows, Kadir Baksh. 

"This bungalow is very bad and low-caste! 
No wonder the Presence was disturbed and is 
speckled. Three sets of doolie-bearers came to 
the bungalow late last night when I was sleeping 
outside, and said that it was their custom to rest 
in the rooms set apart for the English people! 
What honor has the khansamah ? They tried to 
enter, but I told them to go. No wonder, if 
these Oorias have been here, that the Presence is 
sorely spotted. It is shame, and the work of a 
dirty man! " 

Kadir Baksh did not say that he had taken 
from each gang two annas for rent in advance, 
and then, beyond my earshot, had beaten them 
with the big green umbrella whose use I could 

19^ Indian Tales 

never before divine. But Kadir Baksh has no 
notions of morality. 

There was an interview with the khansamah, 
but as he promptly lost his head, wrath gave 
place to pity, and pity led to a long conversa- 
tion, in the course of which he put the fat En- 
gineer-Sahib's tragic death in three separate sta- 
tions — two of them fifty miles away. The third 
shift was to Calcutta, and there the Sahib died 
while driving a dog-cart. 

If 1 had encouraged him the khansamah 
would have wandered all through Bengal with 
his corpse. 

I did not go away as soon as 1 intended. I 
stayed for the night, while the wind and the rat 
and the sash and the window-bolt played a ding- 
dong "hundred and fifty up." Then the wind 
ran out and the billiards stopped, and I felt that 1 
had ruined my one genuine, hall-marked ghost 

Had I only stopped at the proper time, I could 
have made anything out of it. 

That was the bitterest thought of all! 


We're goin' 'ome, we're goin' 'oine — 

Our ship is at the shore, 
An' you mus' pack your 'aversack. 

For we won't come back no more. 
Ho, don't you grieve for me. 

My lovely Mary Ann, 
For I'll marry you yet on a fourp'ny bit, 

As a time-expired ma-a-an ! 

Barrack Room Ballad. 

An awful thing has happened! My friend, 
Private Mulvaney^ who went home in the Serapis, 
time-expired, not very long ago, has come back 
to India as a civilian! It was all Dinah Shadd's 
fault. She could not stand the poky little lodg- 
ings, and she missed her servant Abdullah more 
than words could tell. The fact was that the 
Mulvaneys had been out here too long, and had 
lost touch of England. 

Mulvaney knew a contractor on one of the new 
Central India lines, and wrote to him for some 
sort of work. The contractor said that if Mul- 
vaney could pay the passage he would give him 
command of a gang of coolies for old sake's 
sake. The pay was eighty-five rupees a month, 
and Dinah Shadd said that if Terence did not ac- 

200 Indian Tales 

cept she would make his life a "basted purga- 
thory." Therefore the Mulvaneys came out as 
"civilians," which was a great and terrible fall; 
though Mulvaney tried to disguise it, by saying 
that he was " Ker'nel on the railway line, an' a 
consequinshal man." 

He wrote me an invitation, on a tool-indent 
form, to visit him ; and I came down to the funny 
little " construction " bungalow at the side of the 
line. Dinah Shadd had planted peas about and 
about, and nature had spread all manner of green 
stuff round the place. There was no change in 
Mulvaney except the change of clothing, which 
was deplorable, but could not be helped. He 
was standing upon his trolly, haranguing a gang- 
man, and his shoulders were as well drilled, and 
his big, thick chin was as clean-shaven as ever. 

"I'm a civilian now," said Mulvaney. "Cud 
you tell that I was iver a martial man ? Don't 
answer, sorr, av you're strainin' betune a compli- 
mint an' a lie. There's no houldin' Dinah Shadd 
now she's got a house av her own. Go inside, 
an' dhrink tay out av chiny in the drrrrawin'- 
room, an' thin v/e'll dhrink like Christians undher 
the tree here. Scutt, ye naygur-folk! There's 
a Sahib come to call on me, an' that's more than 
he'll iver do for you onless you run! Get out, 
an' go on pilin' up the earth, quick, till sun- 

The Big Drunk Draf 201 

When we three were comfortably settled under 
the big sisham in front of the bungalow, and the 
first rush of questions and answers about Privates 
Ortheris and Learoyd and old times and places 
had died away, Mulvaney said, reflectively — 
"Glory be there's no p'rade to-morrow, an' no 
bun-headed Corp'ril-bhoy to give you his lip. 
An' yit I don't know 'Tis harrd to be some- 
thing ye niver were an' niver meant to be, an' all 
the ould days shut up along wid your papers. 
Eyah ! I'm growin' rusty, an' 'tis the will av God 
that a man mustn't serve his Quane for time an' 

He helped himself to a fresh peg, and sighed 

"Let your beard grow, Mulvaney," said I, 
"and then you won't be troubled with those 
notions. You'll be a real civilian." 

Dinah Shadd had told me in the drawing-room 
of her desire to coax Mulvaney into letting his 
beard grow. " 'Twas so civilian-like," said poor 
Dinah, who hated her husband's hankering for 
his old life. 

" Dinah Shadd, you're a dishgrace to an honust, 
clane-scraped man ! '" said Mulvaney, without re- 
plying to me. "Grow a beard on your own 
chin, darlint, and lave my razors alone. They're 
all that stand betune me and dis-ris-pect-ability. 
Av i didn't shave, I wud be torminted wid an 

202 Indian Tales 

outrajis thurrst; for there's nothin' so dhryin' to 
the throat as a big billy-goat beard waggin' un- 
dher the chin. Ye wudn't have me dhrink al- 
ways, Dinah Shadd ? By the same token, you're 
kapin' me crool dhry now. Let me look at that 

The whiskey was lent and returned, but Dinah 
Shadd, who had been just as eager as her hus- 
band in asking after old friends, rent me with — 

"I take shame for you, sorr, coming down 
here — though the Saints know you're as welkim 
as the daylight whin you do come — an' upsettin' 
Terence's head wid your nonsense about — about 
fwhat's much better forgotten. He bein' a civil- 
ian now, an' you niver was aught else. Can you 
not let the Arrmy rest? 'Tis not good for 

I took refuge by Mulvaney, for Dinah Shadd 
has a temper of her own. 

"Let be — let be," said Mulvaney. "'Tis only 
wanst in a way I can talk about the ould days." 
Then to me: — " Ye say Dhrumshticks is well, an' 
his lady tu ? 1 niver knew how 1 liked the grey 
garron till I was shut av him an' Asia." — 
'' Dhrumshticks " was the nickname of the Colo- 
nel commanding Mulvaney's old regiment. — 
"Will you be seein' him again .^ You wilL 
Thin tell him " — Mulvaney's eyes began to 
twinkle — "tell him wid Privit" — 

The Big Drunk Draf 203 

"Mister, Terence," interrupted Dinah Shadd. 

" Now the Divil an' all his angils an' the Firma- 
ment av Hiven fly away wid the ' Mister,' an' the 
sin av making me sv/ear be on your confession, 
Dinah Shadd! Pn'vit, 1 tell ye. Wid Pnvit 
Mulvaney's best obedience, that but for me the 
last time-expired wud be still pullin' hair on their 
way to the sea." 

He threw himself back in the chair, chuckled, 
and was silent. 

"Mrs. Mulvaney," I said, "please take up the 
whiskey, and don't let him have it until he has 
told the story." 

Dinah Shadd dexterously whipped the bottle 
away, saying at the same time, " 'Tis nothing to 
be proud av," and thus captured by the enemy, 
Mulvaney spake: — 

" 'Twas on Chuseday week. I was behaderin' 
round wid the gangs on the 'bankmint — I've 
taught the hoppers how to kape step an' stop 
screechin' — whin a head-gangman comes up to 
me, wid about two inches av shirt-tail hanging 
round his neck an' a disthressful light in his oi. 
'Sahib,' sez he, 'there's a reg'mint an' a half av 
soldiers up at the junction, knockin' red cinders 
out av ivrything an' ivrybody! They thried to 
hang me in my cloth,' he sez, 'an' there will be 
murder an' ruin an' rape in the place before night- 
fall! They say they're comin' down here to 

204 Indian Tales 

wake us up. What will we do wid our women- 

"'Fetch my throUy!' sez I; 'my heart's sick 
in my ribs for a wink at anything wid the 
Quane's uniforna on ut. Fetch my throUy, an' 
six av the jildiest men, and run me up in shtyle.' " 

" He tuk his best coat," said Dinah Shadd, re- 

" 'Twas to do honor to the Widdy. I cud ha' 
done no less, Dinah Shadd. You and your di- 
gresshins interfere wid the coorse av the narra- 
tive. Have you iver considhered fwhat I wud 
look like wid me head shaved as well as my 
chin } You bear that in your mind, Dinah darlin'. 

"I was throllied up six miles, all to get a 
shquint at that draf. I knew 'twas a spring draf 
goin' home, for there's no rig'mint hereabouts, 
more's the pity." 

" Praise the Virgin! " murmured Dinah Shadd. 
But Mulvaney did not hear. 

"Whin I was about three-quarters av a mile 
off the rest-camp, powtherin' along fit to burrst, 
I heard the noise av the men an', on my sowl, 
sorr, I cud catch the voice av Peg Barney bel- 
lowin' hke a bison wid the belly-ache. You re- 
mimber Peg Barney that was in D Comp'ny — a 
red, hairy scraun, wid a scar on his jaw ? Peg 
Barney that cleared out the Blue Lights' Jubilee 
meeting wid the cook-room mop last year ? 

The Big Dnink Draf 205 

"Thin I knew ut was a draf of the ould rig'- 
rnint, an" I was conshumed wid sorrow for the 
bhoy that was in charge. We was harrd 
scrapin's at any time. Did I iver tell you how 
Horker Kelley went into clink nakid as Phoebus 
ApoUonius, wid the shirts av the Corp'ril an' file 
undher his arrum .^ An' he was a moild man! 
But I'm digreshin'. 'Tis a shame boih to the 
rig'mints and the Arrmy sendin' down little 
orf'cer bhoys wid a draf av strong men mad wid 
liquor an' the chanst av gettin' shut av India, an' 
niver a punishment that's fit to be given right 
down an' away from cantonmints to the dock ! 
'Tis this nonsince. Whin I am servin' my time, 
I'm undher the Articles av War, an' can be 
whipped on the peg for tltim. But whin I've 
served my time, I'm a Reserve man, an' the Ar- 
ticles av War haven't any hould on me. An 
orf cer can't do anythin' to a time-expired savin' 
confmin' him to barricks. 'Tis a wise rig'lation 
bekaze a time-expired does not have any bar- 
ricks; bein' on the move all the time. 'Tis a 
Solomon av a rig'lation, is that. I wud like to be 
inthroduced to the man that made ut. 'Tis easier 
to get colts from a Kibbereen horse-fair into Gal- 
way than to take a bad draf over ten miles av 
country. Consiquintly that rig'lation — for fear 
that the men wud be hurt by the little orf cer 
bhoy. No matther. The nearer my throlly came 

2o6 Indian Tale. 

to the rest-camp, the woilder was the shine, an' 
the louder was the voice av Peg Barney. ' Tis 
good I am here,' thinks 1 to myself, ' for Peg 
alone is employmint for two or three.' He bein', 
I well knew, as copped as a dhrover. 

" Faith, that rest-camp was a sight! The tent- 
ropes was all skew-nosed, an' the pegs looked as 
dhrunk as the men — fifty av thim — the scourin's, 
an~ rinsin's, an' Divil's lavin's av the Ould Rig'- 
mint. 1 tell you, sorr, they were dhrunker than 
any men you've ever seen in your mortial life. 
How does a draf get dhrunk ? How does a frog 
get fat } They suk ut in through their shkins. 

"There was Peg Barney sittin' on the groun' 
in his shirt — wan shoe off an' wan shoe on — 
whackin' a tent-peg over the head wid his boot, 
an' singin' fit to wake the dead. 'Twas no clane 
song that he sung, though. 'Twas the Divil's 

"What's that.?" I asked. 

"Whin a bad egg is shut av the Army, he 
sings the Divil's Mass for a good riddance: an' 
that manes swearin' at ivrything from the Com- 
mandher-in-Chief down to the Room-Corp'ril. 
such as you niver in your days heard. Some 
men can swear so as to make green turf crack! 
Have you iver heard the Curse in an Orange 
Lodge ? The Divil's Mass is ten times worse, an' 
Peg Barney was singin' ut, whackin' the tent-peg 

The Big Drunk Draf 207 

on the head wid his boot for each man that he 
cursed. A powerful big voice had Peg Barne}^ 
an' a hard swearer he was whin sober. I stood 
forninst him, an' 'twas not me oi alone that cud 
tell Peg was dhrunk as a coot. 

"'Good mornin', Peg,' I sez, whin he dhrew 
breath afther cursin' the Adj'tint Gen'ral; 'I've 
put on my best coat to see you, Peg Barney,' 
sez I. 

"'Thin take ut off again,' sez Peg Barney, 
latherin' away wid the boot; 'take ut off an' 
dance, ye lousy civilian ! ' 

"Wid that he begins cursin' ould Dhrum- 
shticks, being so full he clean disremim.bers the 
Brigade-Major an' the Judge Advokit Gen'ral. 

" 'Do you not know me, Peg.^' sez I, though 
me blood was hot in me wid being called a 

"An' him a decent married man!" wailed 
Dinah Shadd. 

"'I do not,' sez Peg, 'but dhrunk or sober 
I'll tear the hide off your back wid a shovel whin 
I've stopped singin'.' 

"'Say you so, Peg Barney?' sez 1. ''Tis 
clear as mud you've forgotten me. I'll assist 
your autobiography.' Wid that I stretched Peg 
Barney, boot an' all, an' wint into the camp. An 
awful sight ut was! 

"'Where's the orfcer in charge av the de- 

2o8 Indian Tales 

tachment ? ' sez 1 to Scrub Greene — the manest 
little worm that ever walked. 

" 'There's no orf cer, ye ould cook,' sez Scrub; 
'we're a bloomin' Republic' 

"'Are you that?' sez 1; 'thin I'm O'Connell 
the Dictator, an' by this you will larn to kape a 
civil tongue in your rag-box.' 

" Wid that I stretched Scrub Greene an' wint 
to the orfcer's tent. 'Twas a new little bhoy 
— not wan I'd iver seen before. He was sittin' 
in his tent, purtendin' not to 'ave ear av the 

"I saluted — but for the life av me I mint to 
shake hands whin I went in. 'Twas the sword 
hangin' on the tent-pole changed my will. 

"'Can't I help, sorr.^' sez I; ''tis a strong 
man's job they've given you, an' you'll be wantin' 
help by sundown.' He was a bhoy wid bowils, 
that child, an' a rale gintleman. 

" ' Sit down,' sez he. 

'"Not before my orf 'cer,' sez I; an' I tould 
him fwhat my service was. 

"'I've heard av you,' sez he. 'You tuk the 
town av Lungtungpen nakid.' 

"'Faith,' thinks 1, 'that's Honor an' Glory;' 
for 'twas Lift'nint Brazenose did that job. ' I'm 
wid ye, sorr,' sez I, 'if I'm av use. They shud 
niver ha' sent you down wid the draf. Savin' 
your presince, sorr,' I sez, 'tis only Lift'nint 

The Big Drunk Draf 2og 

Hackerston in the Ould Rig'mint can manage a 
Home draf.' 

"'I've niver had charge of men like this be- 
fore,' sez he, playin' wid the pens on the table; 
'an' I see by the Rig'lations" — 

" 'Shut your oi to the Rig'lations, sorr,' I sez, 
'till the throoper's into blue wather. By the 
Rig'lations you've got to tuck thim up for the 
night, or they'll be runnin' foul av my coolies an' 
makin' a shiverarium half through the country. 
Can you trust your noncoms, sorr.^' 

" 'Yes,' sez he. 

" ' Good,' sez 1 ; ' there'll be throuble before the 
night. Are you marchin', sorr.?' 

" 'To the next station,' sez he. 

" ' Better still,' sez I ; ' there'll be big throuble.' 

" 'Can't be too hard on a Home draf',' sez he; 
'the great thing is to get thim in-ship.' 

"'Faith you've larnt the half av your lesson, 
sorr,' sez I, 'but av you shtick to the Rig'lations 
you'll niver get thim in-ship at all, at all. Or 
there w^on't be a rag av kit betune thim whin you 

" 'Twas a dear little orf'cer bhoy, an' by way 
av kapin' his heart up, 1 tould him fwhat I saw 
wanst in a draf in Egypt." 

" What was that, Mulvaney ? " said I. 

"Sivin an' fifty men sittin' on the bank av a 
canal, laughin' at a poor little squidgereen av an 

2IO Indian Tales 

orf cer that they'd made wade into the slush an' 
pitch the things out av the boats for their Lord 
High Mightinesses. That made me orf'cer bhoy 
woild wid indignation. 

" ' Soft an' aisy, sorr,' sez I; 'you've niver had 
your draf in hand since you left cantonmints. 
Wait till the night, an' your work will be ready 
to you, Wid your permission, sorr, I will 
investigate the camp, an' talk to my ould friends. 
Tis no manner av use thryin' to shtop the divil- 
mint now.' 

" Wid that 1 wint out into the camp an' inthro- 
juced mysilf to ivry man sober enough to remim- 
ber me. 1 was some wan in the ould days, an' 
the bhoys was glad to see me — all excipt Peg 
Barney wid a eye like a tomata five days in the 
bazar, an' a nose to match. They come round 
me an' shuk me, an' 1 tould thim I was in privit 
employ wid an income av me own, an' a 
drrrawin'-room fit to bate the Quane's; an' wid 
me lies an' me shtories an' nonsinse gin'rally, I 
kept 'em quiet in wan way an' another, knockin' 
roun' the camp. 'Twas bad even thin whin I 
was the Angil av Peace. 

"I talked to me ould non-coms — they was 
sober — an' betune me an' thim we wore the draf 
over into their tents at the proper time. The 
little orf'cer bhoy he comes round, decint an' 
civil-spoken as might be. 

The Big Drunk Draf 211 

"'Rough quarters, men,' sez he, 'but you 
can't look to be as comfortable as in barricks. 
We must make the best av things. I've shut my 
eyes to a dale av dog's tricks to-day, an' now 
there must be no more av ut.' 

" ' No more we will. Come an' have a dhrink. 
me son,' sez Peg Barney, staggerin' where he 
stud. iMe little orf'cer bhoy kep' his timper. 

"'You're a sulky swine, you are,' sez Peg 
Barney, an' at that the men in the tent began to 

" I tould you me orf'cer bhoy had bowils. He 
cut Peg Barney as near as might be on the oi that 
I'd squshed whin we first met. Peg wint spin- 
nin' acrost the tent. 

" ' Peg him out, sorr,' sez I, in a whishper. 

" ' Peg him out! ' sez me orf'cer bhoy, up loud, 
just as if 'twas battalion-p'rade an' he pickin' his 
wurrds from the Sargint. 

"The non-coms tuk Peg Barney — a howlin' 
handful he was — an' in three minuts he was 
pegged out — chin down, tight-dhrawn — on his 
stummick, a tent-peg to each arm an' leg, 
swearin' fit to turn a naygur white. 

" I tuk a peg an' jammed ut into his ugly jaw. 
— ' Bite on that. Peg Barney,' 1 sez; 'the night is 
settin' frosty, an' you'll be wantin' divarsion be- 
fore the mornin'. But for the Rig'lations you'd 

2 1 2 Indian Tales 

be bitin' on a bullet now at the thriangles, Peg 
Barney,' sez I. 

"All the draf was out av their tents watchin' 
Barney bein' pegged. 

" ' 'Tis agin the Rig'lations! He strook him! ' 
screeches out Scrub Greene, who was always a 
lawyer; an' some of the men tuk up the shoutin'. 

"'Peg out that man!' sez my orf'cer bhoy, 
niver losin' his timper; an' the non-coms wint in 
and pegged out Scrub Greene by the side av Peg 

"I cud see that the draf was comin' roun'. 
The men stud not knowin" fwhat to do. 

"'Get to your tents!' sez me orf'cer bhoy. 
'Sargint, put a sintry over these two men.' 

"The men wint back into the tents like jack- 
als, an' the rest av the night there was no noise 
at all excipt the stip av the sintry over the two, 
an' Scrub Greene blubberin' like a child. 'Twas 
a chilly night, an' faith, ut sobered Peg Barney. 

"Just before Revelly, my orfcer bhoy comes 
out an' sez: 'Loose those men an' send thim to 
their tents! ' Scrub Greene wint away widout a 
word, but Peg Barney, stiff wid the cowld, stud 
like a sheep, thryin' to make his orfcer under- 
sthand he was sorry for playin' the goat. 

" There was no tucker in the draf whin ut fell 
in for the march, an' divil a wurrd about ' ille- 
gality ' cud I hear. 

The Big Drunk Draf 213 

" I wint to the ould Color Sargint and I sez: — 
' Let me die in glory,' sez I. ' I've seen a man 
this day!' 

" 'A man he is,' sez ould Mother; 'the draf's 
as sick as a herrin'. They'll all go down to the 
sea like lambs. That bhoy has the bowils av a 
cantonmint av Gin'rals.' 

"'Amin,' sez 1, 'an' good luck go wid him, 
wheriver he be, by land or by sea. Let me know 
how the draf gets clear.' 

•'An' do you know how they did? That 
bhoy, so I was tould by letter from Bombay, 
bullydamned 'em down to the dock, till they 
cudn't call their sowls their own. From the time 
they left me oi till they was 'tween decks, not 
wan av thim was more than dacintly dhrunk. 
An', by the Holy Articles av War, whin they 
wint aboard they cheered him till they cudn't 
spake, an' tJiat, mark you, has not come about 
wid a draf in the mim'ry av livin' man! You 
look to that little orf cer bhoy. He has bowils. 
'Tis not ivry child that wud chuck the Rig'lations 
to Flanders an' stretch Peg Barney on a wink 
from a brokin an' dilapidated ould carkiss like 
mesilf. I'd be proud to serve " — 

"Terrence, you're a civilian," said Dinah 
Shadd, warningly. 

"So I am — so I am. Is ut likely I wud for- 
get ut } But he was a gran' bhoy all the same, 

2 1 4 Indian Tales 

an' I'm only a mudtipper wid a hod on my shoul- 
thers. The whiskey's in the heel av your hand, 
sorr. V/id your good lave we'll dhrink to the 
Ould Rig'mint— three fingers — standin' up I" 
And we drank. 


Not though you die to-night, O Sweet, and wail, 

A spectre at my door, 
Shall mortal Fear make Love immortal fail — 

I shall but love you more, 
Who, from Death's house returning, give me still 
One moment's comfort in my matchless ill. 

— Shadow Homes. 

THIS tale may be explained by those who 
know how souls are made, and where thr 
bounds of the Possible are put down. I hav. 
lived long enough in this India to know that it is 
best to know nothing, and can only write th 
story as it happened. 

Dumoise was our Civil Surgeon at Meridki, 
and we called him "Dormouse," because he was 
a round little, sleepy little man. He was a good 
Doctor and never quarreled with any one, not 
even with our Deputy Commissioner who had 
the manners of a bargee and the tact of a horse. 
He married a girl as round and as sleepy-looking 
as himself. She was a Miss Hillardyce, daughter 
of " Squash" Hillardyce of the Berars, who mar- 
ried his Chief's daughter by mistake. But that is 
another story. 


2i6 Indian Tales 

A honeymoon in India is seldom more than a 
week long; but there is nothing to hinder a 
couple from extending it over two or three 
years. India is a delightful country foi married 
folk who are wrapped up in one another. They 
can live absolutely alone and without interrup- 
tion — ^just as the Dormice did. Those two little 
people retired from the world after their mar- 
riage, and were very ha,, py. They were forced, 
of course, to give occasional dinners, but they 
made no friends thereby, and the Station went 
its own way and forgot them; only saying, oc- 
casionally, that Dormouse was the best of good 
fellows though dull. A Civil Surgeon who never 
quarrels is a rarity, appreciated as such. 

Few people can afford to play Robinson Cru- 
soe anywhere — least of all in India, where we 
are few in the land and very much dependent on 
each other's kind offices. Dumoise was wrong 
in shutting himself from the world for a year, 
and he discovered his mistake when an epidemic 
of typhoid broke out in the Station in the heart 
of the cold weather, and his wife went down. 
He was a shy little man, and five days were 
wasted before he realized that Mrs. Dumoise 
was burning with something worse than simple 
fever, and three days more passed before he 
ventured to call on Mrs. Shute, the Engineer's 
wife, and timidly speak about his trouble. 

By Word of Mouth 217 

Nearly every household in India knows that Doc- 
tors are very helpless in typhoid. The battle 
must be fought out between Death and the 
Nurses minute by minute and degree by degree. 
Mrs. Shute almost boxed Dumoise's ears for 
what she called his " criminal delay,'" and went off 
at once to look after the poor girl. We had seven 
cases of typhoid in the Station that winter and, 
as the average of death is about one in every five 
cases, we felt certain that we should have to lose 
somebody. But all did their best. The women 
sat up nursing the women, and the men turned 
to and tended the bachelors who were down, 
and we wrestled with those typhoid cases for 
fifty-six days, and brought them through the 
Valley of the Shadow in triumph. But, just 
when we thought all was over, and were going 
to give a dance to celebrate the victory, little Mrs. 
Dumoise got a relapse and died in a week and 
the Station went to the funeral. Dumoise broke 
down utterly at the brink of the grave, and had 
to be taken away. 

After the death, Dumoise crept into his own 
house and refused to be comforted. He did his 
duties perfectly, but we all felt that he should go 
on leave, and the other men of his own Service 
told him so. Dumoise was very thankful for 
the suggestion — he was thankful for anything in 
those days — and went to Chini on a walking- 

2i8 Indian Tales 

tour. Chini is some twenty marches from Simla, 
in the heart of the Hills, and the scenery is good 
if you are in trouble. You pass through big, still 
deodar-forests, and under big, still cliffs, and 
over big, still grass-downs swelling like a wom- 
an's breasts; and the wind across the grass, and 
the rain among the deodars says — " Hush — hush 
— hush." So little Dumoise was packed off to 
Chini, to wear down his grief with a full-plate 
camera and a rifle. He took also a useless 
bearer, because the man had been his wife's fa- 
vorite servant. He was idle and a thief, but Du- 
moise trusted everything to him. 

On his way back from Chini, Dumoise turned 
aside to Bagi, through the Forest Reserve which 
is on the spur of Mount Huttoo. Some men 
who have traveled more than a little say that the 
march from Kotegarh to Bagi is one of the finest 
in creation. It runs through dark wet forest, and 
ends suddenly in bleak, nipped hillside and 
black rocks. Bagi dak-bungalow is open to all 
the winds and is bitterly cold. Few people go 
to Bagi. Perhaps that was the reason why Du- 
moise went there. He halted at seven in the 
evening, and his bearer went down the hillside 
to the village to engage coolies for the next day's 
march. The sun had set, and the night-winds 
were beginning to croon among the rocks. Du- 
moise leaned on the railing of the veranda, wait- 

By Word of Mouth 219 

ing for his bearer to return. The man came back 
almost immediately after he had disappeared, and 
at such a rate that Dumoise fancied he must have 
crossed a bear. He was running as hard as he 
could up the face of the hill. 

But there was no bear to account for his terror. 
He raced to the veranda and fell down, the blood 
spurting from his nose and his face iron-grey. 
Then he gurgled — "! have seen the Me msahib / 
I have seen the Memsahib ! " 

"Where.?" said Dumoise. 

"Down there, walking on the road to the vil- 
lage. She was in a blue dress, and she lifted the 
veil of her bonnet and said — ' Ram Dass, give my 
salaams to the Sahib, and tell him that 1 shall 
meet him next month at Nuddea.' Then 1 ran 
away, because I was afraid." 

What Dumoise said or did I do not know. 
Ram Dass declares that he said nothing, but 
walked up and down the veranda all the cold 
night, waiting for the Memsaliib to come up the 
hill and stretching out his arms into the dark like 
a madman. But no Memsahib came, and, next 
day, he went on to Simla cross-questioning the 
bearer every hour. 

Ram Dass could only say that he had met Mrs. 
Dumoise and that she had lifted up her veil and 
given him the message which he had faithfully 
repeated to Dumoise, To this statement Ram 

220 Indian Tales 

Dass adhered. He did not know where Nuddea 
was, had no friends at Nuddea, and would most 
certainly never go to Nuddea; even though his 
pay were doubled. 

Nuddea is in Bengal and has nothing whatever 
to do with a Doctor serving in the Punjab. It 
must be more than twelve hundred miles south 
of Meridki. 

Dumoise went through Simla without halting, 
and returned to Meridki, there to take over charge 
from the man who had been officiating for him 
during his tour. There were some Dispensary 
accounts to be explained, and some recent orders 
of the Surgeon-General to be noted, and, alto- 
gether, the taking-over was a full day's work. 
In the evening, Dumoise told his locum tenens, 
who was an old friend of his bachelor days, what 
had happened at Bagi; and the man said that 
Ram Dass might as well have chosen Tuticorin 
while he was about it. 

At that moment, a telegraph-peon came in 
with a telegram from Simla, ordering Dumoise 
not to take over charge at Meridki, but to go at 
once to Nuddea on special duty. There was a 
nasty outbreak of cholera at Nuddea, and the 
Bengal Government, being short-handed, as 
usual, had borrowed a Surgeon from the Punjab. 

Dumoise threw the telegram across the table 
and said— "Well?" 

By IVord of Month 221 

The other Doctor said nothing. It was all that 
he could say. 

Then he remembered that Dumoise had passed 
through Simla on his way from Bagi; and thus 
might, possibly, have heard first news of the im- 
pending transfer. 

He tried to put the question, and the implied 
suspicion into words, but Dumoise stopped him 
with — " If I had desired that, I should never have 
come back from Chini. 1 was shooting there. 
I wish to live, for 1 have things to do . . . 
but I shall not be sorry." 

The other man bowed his head, and helped, 
in the twilight, to pack up Dumoise's just opened 
trunks. Ram Dass entered with the lamps. 

" Where is the Saliib going ? " he asked. 

"To Nuddea," said Dumoise, softly. 

Ram Dass clawed Dumoise's knees and boots 
and begged him not to go. Ram Dass wept and 
howled till he was turned out of the room. Then 
he wrapped up all his belongings and came back 
to ask for a character. He was not going to 
Nuddea to see his Sahib die and, perhaps, to die 

So Dumoise gave the man his wages and 
went down to Nuddea alone; the other Doctor 
bidding him good-bye as one under sentence of 

Eleven days later he had joined his Mem sahib ; 

222 Indian Tales 

and the Bengal Government had to borrow a 
fresh Doctor to cope with that epidemic at 
Nuddea. The ^irst importation lay dead in 
Chooadanga Dak Bungalow. 


" And a little child shall lead them." 

IN the Army List they still stand as *' The Fore 
and Fit Princess Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen- 
Auspach's Merther-Tydfilshire Own Royal Loyal 
Light Infantry, Regimental District 329A," but 
the Army through all its barracks and canteens 
knows them now as the " Fore and Aft." They 
may in time do something that shall make their 
new title honorable, but at present they are bit- 
terly ashamed, and the man who calls them 
" Fore and Aft" does so at the risk of the head 
which is on his shoulders. 

Two words breathed into the stables of a cer- 
tain Cavalry Regiment will bring the men out 
into the streets with belts and mops and bad lan- 
guage; but a whisper of "Fore and Aft" will 
bring out this regiment with rifles. 

Their one excuse is that they came again and 
did their best to finish the job in style. But for 
a time all their world knows that they were 
openly beaten, whipped, dumb-cowed, shaking 
and afraid. The men know it; their officers 
know it; the Horse Guards know it, and when 

224 Indian Tales 

the next war comes the enemy vv^ill know it also. 
There are two or three regiments of the Line that 
have a black mark against their names which 
they will then wipe out, and it will be excess- 
ively inconvenient for the troops upon whom 
they do their wiping. 

The courage of the British soldier is officially 
supposed to be above proof, and, as a general 
rule, it is so. The exceptions are decently 
shoveled out of sight, only to be referred to in 
the freshet of unguarded talk that occasionally 
swamps a Mess-table at midnight. Then one 
hears strange and horrible stories of men not fol- 
lowing their officers, of orders being given by 
those who had no right to give them, and of dis- 
grace that, but for the standing luck of the Brit- 
ish .Army, might have ended in brilliant disaster. 
These are unpleasant stories to listen Xd, and the 
Messes tell them under their breath, sitting by the 
big wood (ires, and the young officer bows his 
head and thinks to himself, please God, his men 
shall never behave unhandily. 

The British soldier is not altogether to be 
blamed for occasional lapses; but this verdict he 
should not know, h moderately intelligent 
General will waste six months in mastering the 
craft of the particular war that he may be 
waging; a Colonel may utterly misunderstand 
the capacity of his regiment for three months 

The Drmns of the Fore and Aft 225 

after it has taken the field; and even a Company 
Commander may err and be deceived as to the 
temper and temperament of his own handful: 
wherefore the soldier, and the soldier of to-day 
more particularly, should not be blamed for fall- 
ing back. He should be shot or hanged after- 
ward — pour encourager les autres; but he should 
not be vilified in newspapers, for that is want of 
tact and waste of space. 

He has, let us say, been in the service of the 
Empress for, perhaps, four years. He will leave 
in another two years. He has no inherited mor- 
als, and four years are not sufficient to drive 
toughness into his fibre, or to teach him how 
holy a thing is his Regiment. He wants to drink, 
he wants to enjoy himself — in India he wants to 
save money — and he does not in the least like 
getting hurt. He has received just sufficient ed- 
ucation to make him understand half the purport 
of the orders he receives, and to speculate on the 
nature of clean, incised, and shattering wounds. 
Thus, if he is told to deploy under fire prepara- 
tory to an attack, he knows that he runs a very 
great risk of being killed while he is deploying, 
and suspects that he is being thrown away to 
gain ten minutes' time. He may either deploy 
with desperate swiftness, or he may shuffle, or 
bunch, or break, according to the discipline un- 
der which he has lain for four years. 

226 Indian Tales 

Armed with imperfect knowledge, cursed with 
the rudiments of an imagination, hampered by 
the intense selfishness of the lower classes, and 
unsupported by any regimental associations, this 
young man is suddenly introduced to an enemy 
who in eastern lands is always ugly, generally 
tall and hairy, and frequently noisy. If he looks 
to the right and the left and sees old soldiers — 
men of twelve years' service, who, he knows, 
know what they are about — taking a charge, 
rush, or demonstration without embarrassment, 
he is consoled and applies his shoulder to the 
butt of his rifle with a stout heart. His peace is 
the greater if he hears a senior, who has taught 
him his soldiering and broken his head on occa- 
sion, whispering: — "They'll shout and carry on 
like this for five minutes. Then they'll rush in, 
and then we've got 'em by the short hairs! " 

But, on the other hand, if he sees only men of 
his own term of service, turning white and play- 
ing with their triggers and saying: — " What the 
Hell's up now?" while the Company 
ders are sweating into their sword-hilts and 
shouting: — "Front-rank, fix bayonets. Steady 
there — steady! Sight for three hundred — no, for 
five! Lie down, all! Steady! Front-rank, kneel! " 
and so forth, he becomes unhappy; and grows 
acutely miserable when he hears a comrade turn 
over with the rattle of fire-irons falling into the 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 227 

fender, and the grunt of a pole-axed ox. If he 
can be moved about a httle and allowed to watch 
the effect of his own fire on the enemy he feels 
merrier, and may be then worked up to the blind 
passion of fighting, which is, contrary to general 
belief, controlled by a chilly Devil and shakes 
men like ague. If he is not moved about, and 
begins to feel cold at the pit of the stomach, and 
in that crisis is badly mauled and hears orders 
that were never given, he will break, and he will 
break badly; and of all things under the sight of 
the Sun there is nothing more terrible than a 
broken British regiment. When the worst comes 
to the worst and the panic is really epidemic, the 
men must be e'en let go, and the Company Com- 
manders had better escape to the enemy and stay 
there for safety's sake. If they can be made to 
come again they are not pleasant men to meet, 
because they will not break twice. 

About thirty years from this date, when we 
have succeeded in half-educating everything that 
wears trousers, our Army will be a beautifully 
unreliable machine. It will know too much and 
it will do too little. Later still, when all 
men are at the mental level of the officer of 
to-day it will sweep the earth. Speaking roughly, 
you must employ either blackguards or gentle- 
men, or, best of all, blackguards commanded by 
gentlemen, to do butcher's work with efficiency 

228 Indian Tales 

and despatch. The ideal soldier should, of 
course, think for himself — the Pochetbook says so. 
Unfortunately, to attain this virtue, he has to pass 
through the phase of thinking of himself, and 
that is misdirected genius. A blackguard may be 
slow to think for himself, but he is genuinely 
anxious to kill, and a little punishment teaches 
him how to guard his own skin and perforate 
another's. A powerfully prayerful Highland 
Regiment, officered by rank Presbyterians, is, 
perhaps, one degree more terrible in action than 
a hard-bitten thousand of irresponsible Irish ruf- 
fians led by most improper young unbelievers. 
But these things prove the rule — which is that the 
midway men are not to be trusted alone. They 
have ideas about the value of life and an up- 
bringing that has not taught them to go on and 
take the chances. They are carefully unprovided 
with a backing of comrades who have been shot 
over, and until that backing is re-introduced, as a 
great many Regimental Commanders intend it 
shall be, they are more liable to disgrace them- 
selves than the size of the Empire or the dignity 
of the Army allows. Their officers are as good 
as good can be, because their training begins 
early, and God has arranged that a clean-run 
youth of the British middle classes shall, in the 
matter of backbone, brains, and bowels, surpass 
all other youths. For this reason a child of 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 229 

eighteen will stand up, doing nothing, with a 
tin sword in his hand and joy in his heart until he 
is dropped. If he dies, he dies like a gentleman. 
If he lives, he writes Home that he has been 
"potted," "sniped," " chipped" or "cut over," 
and sits down to besiege Government for a 
wound-gratuity until the next little war breaks 
out, when he perjures himself before a Medical 
Board, blarneys his Colonel, burns incense round 
his Adjutant, and is allowed to go to the Front 
once more. 

Which homily brings me directly to a brace of 
the most finished little fiends that ever banged 
drum or tootled fife in the Band of a British 
Regiment. They ended their sinful career by 
open and flagrant mutiny and were shot for it. 
Their names were Jakin and Lew — Piggy Lew — 
and they were bold, bad drummer-boys, both of 
them frequently birched by the Drum-Major of 
the Fore and Aft. 

Jakin was a stunted child of fourteen, and Lew 
was about the same age. When not looked after, 
they smoked and drank. They swore habitually 
after the manner of the Barrack-room, which is 
cold-swearing and comes from between clinched 
teeth; and they fought religiously once a week. 
Jakin had sprung from some London gutter and 
may or may not have passed through Dr. Bar- 
nado's hands ere he arrived at the dignity of 

230 Indian Tales 

drummer-boy. Lew could remember nothing 
except the regiment and the delight of listening 
to the Band from his earliest years. He hid 
somewhere in his grimy little soul a genuine love 
for music, and was most mistakenly furnished 
with the head of a cherub: insomuch that beauti- 
ful ladies who watched the Regiment in church 
were wont to speak of him as a " darling." They 
never heard his vitriolic comments on their man- 
ners and morals, as he walked back to barracks 
with the Band and matured fresh causes of offence 
against Jakin. 

The other drummer-boys hated both lads on 
account of their illogical conduct. Jakin might 
be pounding Lew, or Lew might be rubbing 
Jakin's head in the dirt, but any attempt at aggres- 
sion on the part of an outsider was met by the 
combined forces of Lew and Jakin; and the con- 
sequences were painful. The boys were the 
Ishmaels of the corps, but wealthy Ishmaels, for 
they sold battles in alternate weeks for the sport 
of the barracks when they were not pitted against 
other boys; and thus amassed money. 

On this particular day there was dissension in 
the camp. They had just been convicted afresh 
of smoking, which is bad for little boys who use 
plug-tobacco, and Lew's contention was that 
Jakin had " stunk so 'orrid bad from keepin' the 
pipe in pocket," that he and he alone was re- 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 231 

sponsible for the birching they were both tingling 

" 1 tell you I 'id the pipe back o' barricks," said 
Jakin, pacifically. 

"You're a bloomin' liar," said Lew, without 

" You're a bloomin' little barstard," said Jakin, 
strong in the knowledge that his own ancestry 
was unknown. 

Now there is one word in the extended vocabu- 
lary of barrack-room abuse that cannot pass 
without comment. You may call a man a thief 
and risk nothing. You may even call him a 
coward without finding more than a boot whiz 
past your ear, but you must not call a man a 
bastard unless you are prepared to prove it on his 
front teeth. 

" You might ha' kep' that till 1 wasn't so sore," 
said Lew, sorrowfully, dodging round Jakin's 

" I'll make you sorer," said Jakin, genially, and 
got home on Lew's alabaster forehead. All 
would have gone well and this story, as the 
books say, would never have been written, had 
not his evil fate prompted the Bazar-Sergeant's 
son, a long, employless man of five and twenty, 
to put in an appearance after the first round. He 
was eternally in need of money, and knew that 
the boys had silver. 

232 Indian Tales 

" Fighting again," said he. " I'll report you to 
my father, and he'll report you to the Color-Ser- 

** What's that to you r " said Jakin, with an un- 
pleasant dilation of the nostrils. 

" Oh! nothing to me. You'll get into trouble, 
and you've been up too often to afford that." 

"What the Hell do vou know about what 
we've done.^" asked Lew the Seraph. " Yoii 
aren't in the Army, you lousy, cadging civilian." 

He closed in on the man's left flank. 

"Jes' 'cause you find two gentlemen settlin' 
their diff'rences with their fistes you stick in your 
jgly nose where you aren't wanted. Run 'ome 
to your 'arf-caste slut of a Ma — or we'll give you 
what-for," said Jakin. 

The man attempted reprisals by knocking the 
boys' heads together. The scheme would have 
succeeded had not Jakin punched him vehemently 
in the stomach, or had Lew refrained from kick- 
ing his shins. They fought together, bleeding 
and breathless, for half an hour, and after heavy 
punishment, trium.phantly pulled down their op- 
ponent as terriers pull down a jackal. 

"Now," gasped Jakin, "I'll give you what- 
for." He proceeded to pound the man's features 
while Lew stamped on the outlying portions 
of his anatomy. Chivalry is not a strong point 
in the composition of the average drummer- 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 233 

boy. He fights, as do his betters, to make his 

Ghastly was the ruin that escaped, and awful 
was the wrath of the Bazar-Sergeant. Awful too 
was the scene in Orderly-room when the two 
reprobates appeared to answer the charge of half- 
murdering a "civilian." The Bazar-Sergeant 
thirsted for a criminal action, and his son lied. 
The boys stood to attention while the black clouds 
of evidence accumulated. 

"You little devils are more trouble than the 
rest of the Regiment put together," said the 
Colonel, angrily. " One might as well admonish 
thistledown, and I can't well put you in cells or 
under stoppages. You must be flogged again." 

" Beg y' pardon, Sir. Can't we say nothin' in 
our own defence, Sir.?" shrilled Jakin. 

" Hey! What } Are you going to argue with 
me.?" said the Colonel. 

"No, Sir," said Lew. " But if a man come to 
you, Sir, and said he was going to report you, 
Sir, for 'aving a bit of a turn-up with a friend, 
Sir, an' wanted to get money out o' you. Sir" — 

The Orderly-room exploded in a roar of laugh- 
ter. " Well ? " said the Colonel. 

"That was what that measly /^r;/it'(3r there did, 
Sir, and 'e'd 'a' done it, Sir, if we 'adn't prevented 
'im. We didn't 'it 'im much. Sir. 'E 'adn't no 
manner o' right to interfere with us, Sir. I don't 

234 Indian Tales 

mind bein' flogged by the Drum-Major, Sir, nor 
yet reported by any Corp'ral, but I'm — but I don't 
think it's fair, Sir, for a civilian to come an' tall^ 
over a man in the Army." 

A second shout of laughter shook the Orderly- 
room, but the Colonel was grave. 

"What sort of characters have these boys. f*" 
he asked of the Regimental Sergeant-Major. 

"Accordin' to the Bandmaster, Sir," returned 
that revered official — the only soul in the regi- 
ment whom the boys feared — "they do every- 
thing but lie. Sir." 

" Is it like we'd go for that man for fun, Sir?" 
said Lew, pointing to the plaintiff. 

"Oh, admonished, — admonished!" said the 
Colonel, testily, and when the boys had gone he 
read the Bazar-Sergeant's son a lecture on the sin 
of unprofitable meddling, and gave orders that 
the Bandmaster should keep the Drums in better 

" If either of you come to practice again with 
so much as a scratch on your two ugly little 
faces," thundered the Bandmaster, "I'll tell the 
Drum-Major to take the skin off your backs. 
Understand that, you young devils." 

Then he repented of his speech for just the 
length of time that Lew, looking like a Seraph in 
red worsted embellishments, took the place of 
one of the trumpets — in hospital — and rendered 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 235 

the echo of a battle-piece. Lew certainly was a 
musician, and had often in his more exalted mo- 
ments expressed a yearning to master every in- 
strument of the Band. 

"There's nothing to prevent your becoming a 
Bandmaster, Lew," said the Bandmaster, who 
had composed waltzes of his own, and worked 
day and night in the interests of the Band. 

"What did he say.?" demanded Jakin, after 

"'Said I might be a bloomin' Bandmaster, an' 
be asked in to 'ave a glass o' sherry-wine on 

" Ho ! 'Said you might be a bloomin' non-com- 
batant, did 'e! That's just about Vv'ot 'e would 
say. When I've put in my boy's service — it's a 
bloomin' shame that doesn't count for pension— 
I'll take on a privit. Then I'll be a Lance in a 
year — knowin' what I know about the ins an' 
outs 0' things. In three years I'll be a bloomin' 
Sergeant. I won't marry then, not I! I'll 'old on 
and learn the orf'cers' ways an' apply for ex- 
change into a reg' ment that doesn't know all 
about me. Then I'll be a bloomin' orf'cer. Then 
I'll ask you to 'ave a glass 0' sherry-wine. Mister 
Lew, an' you'll bloomin' well 'ave to stay in the 
hanty-room while the Mess-Sergeant brings it to 
your dirty 'ands." 

" 'S'pose /'m going to be a Bandmaster? Not 

236 Indian Tales 

I, quite. I'll be a orfcer too. There's nothin' 
like taking to a thing an' stickin' to it, the School- 
master says. The reg'ment don't go 'ome for 
another seven years. I'll be a Lance then or 
near to." 

Thus the boys discussed their futures, and con- 
ducted themselves with exemplary piety for a 
week. That is to say. Lew started a flirtation 
with the Color-Sergeant's daughter, aged thirteen, 
— " not," as he explained to Jakin, " with any in- 
tention o' matrimony, but by way 0' keepin' my 
'and in." And the black-haired Cris Delighan 
enjoyed that flirtation more than previous ones, 
and the other drummer-boys raged furiously to- 
gether, and Jakin preached sermons on the dan- 
gers of " bein' tangled along 0' petticoats." 

But neither love nor virtue would have held 
Lew long in the paths of propriety had not the 
rumor gone abroad that the Regiment was to be 
sent on active service, to take part in a war which, 
for the sake of brevity, we will call "The War 
of the Lost Tribes." 

The barracks had the rumor almost before the 
Mess-room, and of all the nine hundred men in 
barracks not ten had seen a shot fired in anger. 
The Colonel had, twenty years ago, assisted at a 
Frontier expedition; one of the Majors had seen 
service at the Cape; a confirmed deserter in E 
Company had helped to clear streets in Ireland; 

The Drums of the Fore and Ajt 237 

but that was all. The Regiment had been put 
by for many years. The overwhelming mass of 
its rank and file had from three to four years' 
service; the non-commissioned officers were 
under thirty years old; and men and sergeants 
alike had forgotten to speak of the stories written 
in brief upon the Colors — the New Colors that 
had been formally blessed by an Archbishop in 
England ere the Regiment came away. 

They wanted to go to the Front — they were 
enthusiastically anxious to go — but they had no 
knowledge of what war meant, and there was 
none to tell them. They were an educated regi- 
ment, the percentage of school-certificates in their 
ranks was high, and most of the men could do 
more than read and write. They had been re- 
cruited in loyal observance of the territorial idea; 
but they themselves had no notion of that idea. 
They were made up of drafts from an over- 
populated manufacturing district. The system 
had put flesh and muscle upon their small bones, 
but it could not put heart into the sons of 
those who for generations had done overmuch 
work for overscanty pay, had sweated in drying- 
rooms, stooped over looms, coughed among 
white-lead and shivered on lime-barges. The 
men had found food and rest in the Army, and 
now they were going to fight "niggers" — peo- 
ple who ran away if you shook a stick at them. 

238 Indian Tales 

Wherefore they cheered lustily when the rumor 
ran, and the shrewd, clerkly non-commissioned 
officers speculated on the chances of batta and of 
saving their pay. At Headquarters, men said: — 
"The Fore and Fit have never been under fire 
within the last generation. Let us, therefore, 
break them in easily by setting them to guard 
lines of communication." And this would have 
been done but for the fact that British Regiments 
were wanted — badly wanted — at the Front, and 
there were doubtful Native Regiments that could 
fill the minor duties. " Brigade 'em with two 
strong Regiments," said Headquarters. "They 
may be knocked about a bit, but they'll learn their 
business before they come through. Nothing like 
a night-alarm and a little cutting-up of stragglers 
to make a Regiment smart in the field. Wait till 
they've had half a dozen sentries' throats cut." 

The Colonel wrote with delight that the temper 
of his men was excellent, that the Regiment was 
all that could be wished and as sound as a bell. 
The Majors smiled with a sober joy, and the 
subalterns waltzed in pairs down the Mess-room 
after dinner and nearly shot themselves at revol- 
ver practice. But there was consternation in the 
hearts of Jakin and Lew. What was to be done 
with the drums } Would the Band go to the 
Front ? Hov/ many of the drums would accom- 
pany the Regiment ? 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 239 

They took council together, sitting in a tree 
and smoking. 

" It's more than a bloomin' toss-up they'll leave 
us be'ind at the Depot with the women. You'll 
like that," said Jakin, sarcastically. 

" 'Cause 0' Cris, y' mean } Wot's a woman, 
or a 'ole bloomin' depot 0' women, 'longside o' 
the chanst of field-service.? You know I'm as 
keen on goin' as you," said Lew. 

"'Wish 1 was a bloomin' bugler," said Jakin, 
sadly. "They'll take Tom Kidd along, that I 
can plaster a wall with, an' like as not they 
won't take us." 

"Then let's go an' make Tom Kidd so 
bloomin' sick 'e can't bugle no more. You 'old 
'is 'ands an' I'll kick him," said Lew, wriggling 
on the branch. 

"That ain't no good neither. We ain't the 
sort 0' characters to presoon on our rep'tations — 
they're bad. If they have the Band at the Depot 
we don't go, and no error there. If they take 
the Band we may get cast for medical unfitness. 
Are you medical fit, Piggy ? " said Jakin, dig- 
ging Lew in the ribs with force. 

" Yus," said Lew, with an oath. " The Doctor 
says your 'eart's weak through smokin' on an 
empty stummick. Throw a chest an' I'll try 

Jakin threw out his chest, which Lew smote 

240 Indian Tales, 

with all his might. Jakin turned very pale, 
gasped, crowed, screwed up his eyes and said, — 
"That's all right." 

"You'll do," said Lew. "I've 'eard o' men 
dyin' when you 'it 'em fair on the breast-bone." 

"'Don't bring us no nearer goin', though," 
said Jakin. "Do you know where we're or- 
dered }" 

"Gawd knows, an' 'e won't split on a pal. 
Somewheres up to the Front to kill Paythans — 
hairy big beggars that turn you inside out if they 
get 'old o' you. They say their women are 
good-looking, too." 

"Any loot.?" asked the abandoned Jakin. 

"Not a bloomin' anna, they say, unless you 
dig up the ground an' see what the niggers 'ave 
'id. They're a poor lot." Jakin stood upright on 
the branch and gazed across the plain. 

"Lew," said he, "there's the Colonel coming. 
'Colonel's a good old beggar. Let's go an' talk 
to 'im." 

Lew nearly fell out of the tree at the audacity 
of the suggestion. Like Jakin he feared not God 
neither regarded he Man, but there are limits 
even to the audacity of drummer-boy, and to 
speak to a Colonel was . . . 

But Jakin had slid down the trunk and doubled 
in the direction of the Colonel. That officer was 
walking wrapped in thought and visions of a C. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 241 

B. — yes, even a K, C. B., for had he not at com- 
mand one of the best Regiments of the Line — 
the Fore and Fit ? And he was aware of two 
small boys charging down upon him. Once be- 
fore it had been solemnly reported to him that 
"the Drums were in a state of mutiny "; Jakin 
and Lew being the ringleaders. This looked like 
an organized conspiracy. 

The boys halted at twenty yards, walked to 
the regulation four paces, and saluted together, 
each as well set-up as a ramrod and little taller. 

The Colonel was in a genial mood; the boys 
appeared very forlorn and unprotected on the 
desolate plain, and one of them was hand- 

"Well!" said the Colonel, recognizing them. 
"Are you going to pull me down in the open .? 
I'm sure I never interfere with you, even though" 
— he sniffed suspiciously — "you have been smok- 

It was time to strike while the iron was hot. 
Their hearts beat tumultuously. 

"Beg y' pardon, Sir," began Jakin. "The 
Reg'ment's ordered on active service. Sir?" 

"So I believe," said the Colonel, courteously. 

"Is the Band goin'. Sir.?" said both together. 
Then, without pause, "We're goin', Sir, ain't 

"You!" said the Colonel, stepping back the 

242 Indian Tales 

more fully to take in the two small figures. 
" You! You'd die in the first march." 

"No, we wouldn't, Sir. We can march with 
the Regiment anywheres — p'rade an' anywhere 
else," said Jakin. 

"If Tom Kidd goes 'e'll shut up like a clasp- 
knife." said Lew. " Tom 'as very close veins in 
both 'is legs. Sir." 

" Very how much ? " 

"Very close veins, Sir. That's why they 
swells after long p'rade. Sir. If 'e can go, we 
can go. Sir." 

Again the Colonel looked at them long and 

"Yes, the Band is going," he said, as gravely 
as though he had been addressing a brother 
officer. "Have you any parents, either of you 
two ?" 

"No, Sir," rejoicingly from Lew and Jakin. 
" We're both orphans. Sir. There's no one to 
be considered of on our account. Sir." 

"You poor little sprats, and you want to go 
up to the Front with the Regiment, do you } 
Why ? " 

"I've wore the Queen's Uniform for two 
years," said Jakin. "It's very 'ard. Sir, that a 
man don't get no recompense for doin' 'is dooty, 

"An' — an' if I don't go. Sir," interrupted Lew, 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 243 

"the Bandmaster 'e says 'e'll catch an' make a 
bloo — a blessed musician o' me, Sir. Before I've 
seen any service, Sir." 

The Colonel made no answer for a long time- 
Then he said quietly: — " If you're passed by the 
Doctor I dare say you can go. 1 shouldn't smoke 
if I were you." 

The boys saluted and disappeared. The Colo- 
nel walked home and told the story to his wife, 
who nearly cried over it. The Colonel was well 
pleased. If that was the temper of the children, 
what would not the men do } 

Jakin and Lew entered the boys' barrack-room 
with great stateliness, and refused to hold any 
conversation with their comrades for at least 
ten minutes. Then, bursting with pride, Jakin 
drawled: — "I've bin intervooin' the Colonel. 
Good old beggar is the Colonel. Says I to 'im, 
'Colonel,' says I, Met me go the Front, along o' 
the Reg'ment.' 'To the Front you shall go,' 
says 'e, * an' I only wish there was more like 
you among the dirty little devils that bang the 
bloomin' drums,' Kidd, if you throw your 
'coutrements at me for tellin' you the truth to 
your own advantage, your legs '11 swell." 

None the less there was a Battle-Royal in the 
barrack-room, for the boys were consumed with 
envy and hate, and neither Jakin nor Lew be- 
haved in 'Conciliatory wise. 

244 Indian Tales 

"I'm goin' out to say adoo to my girl," said 
Lew, to cap the climax. "Don't none o' you 
touch my kit because it's wanted for active serv- 
ice, me bein' specially invited to go by the Colo- 

He strolled forth and whistled in the clump of 
trees at the back of the Married Quarters till Cris 
came to him, and, the preliminary kisses being 
given and taken. Lew began to explain the situa- 

"I'm goin' to the Front with the Reg'ment," 
he said, valiantly. 

" Piggy, you're a little liar," said Cris, but her 
heart misgave her, for Lew was not in the habit 
of lying. 

"Liar yourself, Cris," said Lew, slipping an 
arm round her. "I'm goin'. When the Reg'- 
ment marches out you'll see me with 'em, all 
galliant and gay. Give us another kiss, Cris, on 
the strength of it." 

"If you'd on'y a-stayed at the Depot — where 
you ought to ha' bin — you could get as many of 
'em as — as you dam please," whimpered Cris, 
putting up her mouth. 

" It's 'ard, Cris. I grant you it's 'ard. But 
what's a man to do ? If I'd a-stayed at the De- 
pot, you wouldn't think anything of me." 

" Like as not, but I'd 'ave you with me, Piggy. 
An' all the thinkin' in the world isn't like kissin'." 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 245 

"An' all the kissin' in the world isn't like 'avin' 
a medal to wear on the front 0' your coat." 

" Yon won't get no medal." 

"Oh, yus, I shall though. Me an' Jakin are 
the only acting-drummers that'll be took along. 
All the rest is full men, an' we'll get our medals 
with them." 

" They might ha' taken anybody but you, 
Piggy. You'll get killed — you're so venture- 
some. Stay with me, Piggy, darlin', dov/n at 
the Depot, an' I'll love you true forever." 

"Ain't you goin' to do that //ow, Cris.? You 
said you was." 

" O' course I am, but th' other's more comfort- 
able. Wait till you've growed a bit. Piggy. 
You aren't no taller than me now." 

" I've bin in the army for two years an' I'm 
not goin' to get out of a chanst o' seein' service 
an' don't you try to make me do so. I'll come 
back, Cris, an' when I take on as a man I'll marry 
you — marry you when I'm a Lance." 

" Promise, Piggy ?" 

Lew reflected on the future as arranged by 
Jakin a short time previously, but Cris's mouth 
was very near to his own. 

" I promise, s'elp me Gawd ! " said he. 

Cris slid an arm round his neck. 

"I won't 'old you back no more. Piggy. Go 
away an' get your medal, an' I'll make you a 

246 Indian Tales 

new button-bag as nice as I know how," she 

"Put some o' your 'air into it, Cris, an' I'll 
keep it in my pocket so long's I'm alive." 

Then Cris wept anew, and the interview 
ended. Public feeling among the drummer-boys 
rose to fever pitch and the lives of Jakin and Lew 
became unenviable. Not only had they been 
permitted to enlist two years before the regulation 
boy's age — fourteen — but, by virtue, it seemed, 
of their extreme youth, they were allowed to go 
to the Front — which thing had not happened to 
acting-drummers within the knowledge of boy. 
The Band which was to accompany the Regi- 
ment had been cut down to the regulation twenty 
men, the surplus returning to the ranks. Jakin 
and Lew were attached to the Band as super- 
numeraries, though they would much have pre- 
ferred being Company buglers. 

"'Don't matter much," said Jakin. after the 
medical inspection. "Be thankful that we're 
'lowed to go at all. The Doctor 'e said that if 
we could stand what we took from the Bazar- 
Sergeant's son we'd stand pretty nigh any- 

" Which we will," said Lew, looking tenderly 
at the ragged and ill-made housewife that Cris 
had given him, with a lock of her hair worked 
into a sprawling " L" upon the cover. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 247 

"It was the best I could," she sobbed. "! 
wouldn't let mother nor the Sergeant's tailor 'elp 
me. Keep it always, Piggy, an' remember 1 love 
you true." 

They marched to the railway station, nine 
hundred and sixty strong, and every soul in can- 
tonments turned out to see them go. The drum- 
mers gnashed their teeth at Jakin and Lew march- 
ing with the Band, the married women wept 
upon the platform, and the Regiment cheered its 
noble self black in the face. 

"A nice level lot," said the Colonel to the 
Second-in-Command, as they watched the first 
four companies entraining. 

" Fit to do anything," said the Second-in-Com- 
mand, enthusiastically. "But it seems to me 
they're a thought too young and tender for the 
work in hand. It's bitter cold up at the Front 

"They're sound enough," said the Colonel. 
" We must take our chance of sick casualties." 

So they went northward, ever northward, past 
droves and droves of camels, armies of camp 
followers, and legions of laden mules, the throng 
thickening day by day, till with a shriek the train 
pulled up at a hopelessly congested junction 
where six lines of temporary track accommo- 
dated six forty-wagon trains; where whistles 
blew, Babus sweated and Commissariat officers 

248 Indian Tales 

swore from dawn till far into the night amid the 
wind-driven chaff of the fodder-bales and the 
lowing of a thousand steers. 

" Hurry up — you're badly wanted at the Front," 
was the message that greeted the Fore and Aft, 
and the occupants of the Red Cross carriages 
told the same tale. 

"Tisn't so much the bloomin' fighting," 
gasped a headbound trooper of Hussars to a knot 
of admiring Fore and Afts. "Tisn't so much 
the bloomin' fightin', though there's enough o' 
that. It's the bloomin' food an' the bloomin' 
climate. Frost all night 'cept when it hails, and 
biling sun all day, and the water stinks fit to 
knock you down. 1 got my 'ead chipped like a 
egg\ I've got pneumonia too, an' my guts is all 
out 0' order. 'Tain't no bloomin' picnic in those 
parts, I can tell you." 

"Wot are the niggers like?" demanded a 

"There's some prisoners in that train yonder. 
Go an' look at 'em. They're the aristocracy o' 
the country. The common folk are a dashed 
sight uglier. If you want to know what they 
fight with, reach under my seat an' pull out the 
long knife that's there." 

They dragged out and beheld for the first time 
the grim, bone-handled, triangular Afghan knife. 
It was almost as long as Lew. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 249 

, " That's the thing to jint ye," said the trooper, 

" It can take off a man's arm at the shoulder as 
easy as slicing butter. 1 halved the beggar that 
used that 'un, but there's more of his likes up 
above. They don't understand thrustin', but 
they're devils to slice." 

The men strolled across the tracks to inspect 
the Afghan prisoners. They were unlike any 
"niggers" that the Fore and Aft had ever met — • 
these huge, black-haired, scowling sons of the 
Beni-Israel. As the men stared the Afghans spat 
freely and muttered one to another with lowered 

"My eyes! Wot awful swine!" said Jakin, 
who w' ''n the rear of the procession. "Say, 
old man, how you got piickrowed, eh } Ktswasti 
you wasn't hanged for your ugly face, hey ? " 

The tallest of the company turned, his leg- 
irons, clanking at the movement, and stared at 
the boy. "See!" he cried to his fellows in 
Pushto. "They send children against us. What 
a people, and what fools! " 

" Hya ! " said Jakin, nodding his head cheerily. 
" You go down-country. Khana get, peenikap- 
anee get — live like a bloomin' Raja ke marfk. 
That's a better baiidobifst than bay nit get it in your 
innards. Good-bye, ole man. Take care o' your 
beautiful figure-'ed, an' try to look kiishy-" 

2 50 Indian Tales 

The men laughed and fell in for their fir^t 
march when they began to realize that a soldier's 
life was not all beer and skittles. They were 
much impressed with the size and bestial feroc- 
ity of the niggers whom they had now learned 
to call "Paythans," and more with the exceed' 
ing discomfort of their own surroundings. 
Twenty old soldiers in the corps would have 
taught them how to make themselves moderately 
snug at night, but they had no old soldiers, and, 
as the troops on the line of march said, "they 
lived like pigs." They learned the heart-break- 
ing cussedness of camp-kitchens and camels and 
the depravity of an E. P. tent and a wither-wrung 
mule. They studied animalculse in water, and 
developed a few cases of dysentery in their study. 

At the end of their third march they were dis- 
agreeably surprised by the arrival in their camp 
of a hammered iron slug which, fired from a 
steadyrest at seven hundred yards, flicked out 
the brains of a private seated by the fire. This 
robbed them of their peace for a night, and was 
the beginning of a long-range fire carefully cal- 
culated to that end. In the daytime they saw 
nothing except an occasional puff of smoke from 
a crag above the line of march. At night there 
were distant spurts of flame and occasional casu- 
alties, which set the whole camp blazing into 
the gloom, and, occasionally, into opposite tents. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 251 

Then they swore vehemently and vowed that 
this was magnificent but not war. 

Indeed it was not. The Regiment could not 
halt for reprisals against the franctireurs of the 
country side. Its duty was to go forward and 
make connection with the Scotch and Gurkha 
troops v/ith which it was brigaded. The Af- 
ghans knew this, and knew too, after their first 
tentative shots, that they were dealing with a 
raw regiment. Thereafter they devoted them- 
selves to the task of keeping the Fore and Aft on 
the strain. Not for anything would they have 
taken equal liberties with a seasoned corps — with 
the wicked little Gurkhas, whose delight it was 
to lie out in the open on a dark night and stalk 
their stalkers — with the terrible, big men dressed 
in women's clothes, who could be heard praying 
to their God in the night-watches, and whose 
peace of mind no amount of "sniping" could 
shake — or with those vile Sikhs, who marched so 
ostentatiously unprepared and who dealt out 
such grim reward to those who tried to profit by 
that unpreparedness. This white regiment was 
different — quite different. It slept like a hog, 
and, like a hog, charged in every direction when 
it was roused. Its sentries walked with a foot- 
fall that could be heard for a quarter of a mile; 
would fire at anything that moved — even a 
driven donkey — and when they had once fired. 

252 Indian Tales 

could be scientifically "rushed" and laid out a 
horror and an offence against the morning sun. 
Then there were camp-followers who straggled 
and could be cut up without fear. Their shrieks 
would disturb the white boys, and the loss of 
their services would inconvenience them sorely. 

Thus, at every march, the hidden enemy be- 
came bolder and the regiment writhed and 
twisted under attacks it could not avenge. The 
crowning triumph was a sudden night-rush end- 
ing in the cutting of many tent-ropes, the col- 
lapse of the sodden canvas and a glorious knifing 
of the men who struggled and kicked below. It 
was a great deed, neatly carried out, and it shook 
the already shaken nerves of the Fore and Aft. 
All the courage that they had been required to 
exercise up to this point was the "two o'clock 
in the morning courage"; and they, so far, had 
only succeeded in shooting their comrades and 
losing their sleep. 

Sullen, discontented, cold, savage, sick, with 
their uniforms dulled and unclean, the " Fore and 
Aft " joined their Brigade. 

"I hear you had a tough time of it coming 
up," said the Brigadier. But when he saw the 
hospital-sheets his face fell. 

"This is bad," said he to himself. "They're 
as rotten as sheep." And aloud to the Colonel, 
— ' I'm afraid we can't spare you just yet. We 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 253 

want all we have, else I should have given you 
ten days to recruit in." 

The Colonel winced. "On my honor, Sir," 
he returned, " there is not the least necessity to 
think of sparing us. My men have been rather 
mauled and upset without a fair return. They 
only want to go in somewhere where they can 
see what's before them." 

"'Can't say I think much of the Fore and Fit," 
said the Brigadier, in confidence, to his Brigade- 
Major. "They've lost all their soldiering, and, 
by the trim of them, might have marched 
through the country from the other side. A 
more fagged-out set of men I never put eyes 

"Oh, they'll improve as the work goes on. 
The parade gloss has been rubbed off a little, but 
they'll put on field polish before long," said the 
Brigade-Major. "They've been mauled, and 
they quite don't understand it." 

They did not. All the hitting was on one side, 
and it was cruelly hard hitting with accessories 
that made them sick. There was also the real 
sickness that laid hold of a strong man and 
dragged him howling to the grave. 'Worst of 
all, their officers knew just as little of the coun- 
try as the men themselves, and looked as if they 
did. The Fore and Aft were in a thoroughly un- 
satisfactory condition, but they believed that all 

254 Indian Tales 

would be well if they could once get a fair go-in 
at the enemy. Pot-shots up and down the val- 
leys were unsatisfactory, and the bayonet never 
seemed to get a chance. Perhaps it was as well, 
for a long-iimbed Afghan with a knife had a 
reach of eight feet, and could carry away enough 
lead to disable three Englishmen. The Fore and 
Fit would like some rifle-practice at the enemy — 
all seven hundred rifles blazing together. That 
wish showed the mood of the men. 

The Gurkhas walked into their camp, and in 
broken, barrack-room English strove to fraternize 
with them; offered them pipes of tobacco and 
stood them treat at the canteen. But the Fore 
and Aft, not knowing much of the nature of the 
Gurkhas, treated them as they would treat any 
other " niggers," and the little men in green trot- 
ted back to their firm friends the Highlanders, 
and with many grins confided to them: — "That 
dam white regiment no dam use. Sulky — ugh! 
Dirty — ugh! Hya, any tot for Johnny ?" Whereat 
the Highlanders smote the Gurkhas as to the 
head, and told them not to vilify a British Regi- 
ment, and the Gurkhas grinned cavernously, for 
the Highlanders were their elder brothers and en- 
titled to the privileges of kinship. The common 
soldier who touches a Gurkha is more than likely 
to have his head sliced open. 

Three days later the Brigadier arranged a battle 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 255 

according to the rules of war and the peculiarity 
of the Afghan temperament. The enemy were 
massing in inconvenient strength among the 
hills, and the moving or many green standards 
warned him that the tribes were *' up" in aid of 
the Afghan regular troops, A Squadron and a 
half of Bengal Lancers represented the available 
Cavalry, and two screw-guns borrowed from a 
column thirty miles away, the Artillery at the 
General's disposal. 

"If they stand, as I've a very strong notion 
that they will, I fancy we shall see an infantry 
fight that will be worth watching," said the, Brig- 
adier. "We'll do it in style. Each regiment 
shall be played into action by its Band, and we'll 
hold the Cavalry in reserve." 

" For all the reserve .?" somebody asked. 

"For all the reserve; because we're going to 
crumple them up," said the Brigadier, who was 
an extraordinary Brigadier, and did not believe in 
the value of a reserve when dealing with Asiat- 
ics. And, indeed, when you come to think of it, 
had the British Army consistently waited for re- 
serves in all its little affairs, the boundaries of Our 
Empire would have stopped at Brighton beach. 

That battle was to be a glorious battle. 

The three regiments debouching from three 
separate gorges, after duly crowning the heights 
above, were to converge from the centre, left. 

256 Indian Tales 

and right upon what vve will call the Afghan 
army, then stationed toward the lower extrem- 
ity of a flat-bottomed valley. Thus it v/ill be 
seen that three sides of the valley practically 
belonged to the English, while the fourth was 
strictly Afghan property, in the event of defeat 
the Afghans had the rocky hills to fly to, where 
the fire from the guerilla tribes in aid would 
cover their retreat. In the event of victory these 
same tribes would rush down and lend their 
weight to the rout of the British. 

The screw-guns v^ere to shell the head of each 
Afghan rush that was made in close formation, 
and the Cavalry, held in reserve in the right val- 
ley, were to gently stimulate the break-up which 
would follow on the combined attack. The 
Brigadier, sitting upon a rock overlooking the 
valley, would watch the battle unrolled at his 
feet. The Fore and Aft would debouch from 
the central gorge, the Gurkhas from the left, and 
the Highlanders from the right, for the reason 
that the left flank of the enemy seemed as though 
it required the most hammering. It was not 
every day that an Afghan force would take 
ground in the open, and the Brigadier was re- 
solved to make the most of it. 

" If we only had a few more men," he said, 
plaintively, "we could surround the creatures 
and crumble 'em up thoroughly. As it is, I'm 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 257 

afraid we can only cut them up as they run. 
It's a great pity." 

The Fore and Aft had enjoyed unbroken peace 
for five days, and were beginning, in spite of 
dysentery, to recover their nerve. But they 
were not happy, for they did not know the 
work in hand, and had they known, would 
not have known how to do it. Throughout 
those five days in which old soldiers might have 
taught them the craft of the game, they discussed 
together their misadventures in the past — how 
such an one was alive at dawn and dead ere the 
dusk, and with what shrieks and struggles such 
another had given up his soul under the Afghan 
knife. Death was a new and horrible thing to 
the sons of mechanics who were used to die de- 
cently of zymotic disease; and their careful con- 
servation in barracks had done nothing to make 
them look upon it with less dread. 

Very early in the dawn the bugles began to 
blow, and the Fore and Aft, filled with a mis- 
guided enthusiasm, turned out without waiting 
for a cup of coffee and a biscuit; and were re- 
warded by being kept under arms in the cold 
while the other regiments leisurely prepared for 
the fray. All the world knows that it is ill tak- 
ing the breeks off a Highlander. It is much iller 
to try to make him stir unless he is convinced of 
the necessity for haste. 

258 Indian Tales 

The Fore and Aft awaited, leaning upon their 
rifles and listening to the protests of their empty 
stomachs. The Colonel did his best to remedy 
the default of lining as soon as it was borne in 
upon him that the affair would not begin at once, 
and so well did he succeed that the coffee was 
just ready when — the men moved off, their Band 
leading. Even then there had been a mistake in 
time, and the Fore and Aft came out into the 
valley ten minutes before the proper hour. Their 
Band wheeled to the right after reaching the 
open, and retired behind a Uttle rocky knoll still 
playing while the regiment went past. 

It was not a pleasant sight that opened on the 
uninstructed view, for the lower end of the val- 
ley appeared to be filled by an army in position 
— real and actual regiments attired in red coats, 
and — of this there was no doubt — firing Mar- 
tini-Henri bullets which cup up the ground a 
hundred yards in front of the leading company. 
Over that pock-marked ground the regiment had 
to pass, and it opened the ball with a general and 
profound courtesy to the piping pickets; ducking 
in perfect time, as though it had been brazed on 
a rod. Being half-capable of thinking for itself, 
it fired a volley by the simple process of pitching 
its rifle into its shoulder and pulling the trigger. 
The bullets may have accounted for some of the 
watchers on the hillside, but they certainly did 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 259 

not affect the mass of enemy in front, while the 
noise of the rifles drowned any orders that might 
have been given. 

"Good God!" said the Brigadier, sitting on 
the rock high above all, "That regiment has 
spoiled the whole show. Hurry up the others, 
and let the screw-guns get off." 

But the screw-guns, in working round the 
heights, had stumbled upon a wasp's nest of a 
small mud fort which they incontinently shelled 
at eight hundred yards, to the huge discomfort 
of the occupants, who were unaccustomed to 
weapons of such devilish precision. 

The Fore and Aft continued to go forward but 
with shortened stride. Where were the other 
regiments, and why did these niggers use Mar- 
tinis .? They took open order instinctively, lying 
down and firing at random, rushing a few paces 
forward and lying down again, according to the 
regulations. Once in this formation, each man 
felt himself desperately alone, and edged in to- 
ward his fellow for comfort's sake. 

Then the crack of his neighbor's rifle at his ear 
led him to fire as rapidly as he could — again for 
the sake of the comfort of the noise. The re- 
ward was not long delayed. Five volleys plunged 
the files in banked smoke impenetrable to the 
eye, and the bullets began to take ground twenty 
or thirty yards in front of the firers, as the weight 

26o Indian Tales 

of the bayonet dragged down, and to the right 
arms wearied with holding the kick of the leap- 
ing Martini. The Company Commanders peered 
helplessly through the smoke, the more nervous 
mechanically trying to fan it away with their 

" High and to the left! " bawled a Captain till 
he was hoarse. "No good! Cease firing, and 
let it drift away a bit." 

Three and four times the bugles shrieked the 
order, and when it was obeyed the Fore and Aft 
looked that their foe should be lying before them 
in mown swaths of men. A light wind drove 
the smoke to leeward, and showed the enemy 
still in position and apparently unaffected. A 
quarter of a ton of lead had been buried a fur- 
long in front of them, as the ragged earth at- 

That was not demoralizing. They were wait- 
ing for the mad riot to die down, and were firing 
quietly into the heart of the smoke. A private of 
the Fore and Aft spun up his company shrieking 
with agony, another was kicking the earth and 
gasping, and a third, ripped through the lower 
intestines by a jagged bullet, was calling aloud 
on his comrades to put him out of his pain. 
These were the casualties, and they were not 
soothing to hear or see. The smoke cleared to a 
dull haze. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 261 

Then the foe began to shout with a great 
shouting and a mass — a black mass — detached 
itself from the main body, and rolled over the 
ground at horrid speed. It was composed of, 
perhaps, three hundred men, who would shout 
and tire and slash if the rush of their fifty com- 
rades who were determined to die carried home. 
The fifty were Ghazis, half-maddened with 
drugs and wholly mad with religious fanaticism. 
When they rushed the British fire ceased, and 
in the lull the order was given to close ranks 
and meet them with the bayonet. 

Any one who knew the business could have 
told the Fore and Aft that the only way of deal- 
ing with a Ghazi rush is by volleys at long 
ranges; because a man who means to die, who 
desires to die, who will gain heaven by dying, 
must, in nine cases out of ten, kill a man who 
has a lingering prejudice in favor of life if he can 
close with the latter. Where they should have 
closed and gone forward, the Fore and Aft 
opened out and skirmished, and where they 
should have opened out and fired, they closed 
and waited. 

A man dragged from his blankets half awake 
and unfed is never in a pleasant fr^me of mind. 
Nor does his happiness increase when he watches 
the whites of the eyes of three hundred six-foot 
fiends upon whose beards the foam is lying, upon 

262 Indian Tales 

whose tongues is a roar of wrath, and in whose 
hands are three-foot knives. 

The Fore and Aft heard the Gurkha bugles 
bringing that regiment forward at the double, 
while the neighing of the Highland pipes came 
from the left. They strove to stay where they 
were, though the bayonets wavered down the 
line like the oars of a ragged boat. Then they 
felt body to body the amazing physical strength 
of their foes; a shriek of pain ended the rush, 
and the knives fell amid scenes not to be told. 
The men clubbed together and smote blindly — as 
often as not at their own fellows. Their from 
crumpled like paper, and the fifty Ghazis passed 
on; their backers, now drunk with success, fight- 
ing as madly as they. 

Then the rear-ranks were bidden to close up, 
and the subalterns dashed into the stew — alone. 
For the rear-rank had heard the clamor in front, 
the yells and the howls of pain, and had seen the 
dark stale blood that makes afraid. They were 
not going to stay. It was the rushing of the 
camps over again. Let their officers go to Hell, if 
they chose; they would get away from the 

"Come on!" shrieked the subalterns, and their 
men, cursing them, drew back, each closing into 
his neighbor and wheeling round. 

Charteris and Devlin, subalterns of the last 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 263 

company, faced their death alone in the belief 
that their men would follow. 

"You've killed me, you cowards," sobbed 
Devlin and dropped, cut from the shoulder-strap 
to the centre of the chest, and a fresh detachment 
of his men retreating, always retreating, trampled 
him under foot as they made for the pass whence 
they had emerged. 

I kissed her in the kitchen and I kissed her in the hall. 

Child'un, child'un, follow me ! 
Oh Golly, said the cook, is he gwine to kiss us all ? 

Halla— Halla— Halla Halleujah ! 

The Gurkhas were pouring through the left 
gorge and over the heights at the double to the 
invitation of their regimental Quickstep. The 
black rocks were crowned with dark green 
spiders as the bugles gave tongue jubilantly: 

In the morning ! In the morning by the bright light ! 
When Gabriel blows his trumpet in the morning ! 

The Gurkha rear-companies tripped and 
blundered over loose stones. The front-files 
halted for a moment to take stock of the valley 
and to settle stray boot-laces. Then a happy lit- 
tle sigh of contentment soughed down the ranks, 
and it was as though the land smiled, for behold 
there below was the enemy, and it was to meet 
them that the Gurkhas had doubled so hastily. 

264 Indian Tales 

There was much enemy. There would be 
amusement. The little men hitched their kukris 
well to hand, and gaped expectantly at their 
officers as terriers grin ere the stone is cast for 
them to fetch. The Gurkhas' ground sloped 
downward to the valley, and they enjoyed a fair 
view of the proceedings. They sat upon the 
bowlders to watch, for their officers were not 
going to waste their wind in assisting to repulse 
a Ghazi rush more than half a mile away. Let 
the white men look to their own front. 

"Hi! yi!" said the Subadar-Major, who was 
sweating profusely. "Dam fools yonder, stand 
close-order! This is no time for close order, it's 
the time for volleys. Ugh! " 

Horrified, amused, and indignant, the Gurkhas 
beheld the retirement — let us be gentle — of the 
Fore and Aft with a running chorus of oaths and 

"They run! The white men run! Colonel 
Sahib, may we also do a little running .?" mur- 
mured Runbir Thappa, the Senior Jemadar. 

But the Colonel would have none of it. " Let 
the beggars be cut up a little," said he wrath- 
fully. "'Serves 'em right. They'll be prodded 
into facing round in a minute." He looked 
through his field-glasses, and caught the glint of 
an officer's sword. 

"Beating 'em with the flat — damned con- 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 265 

scripts! How the Ghazis are walking into 
them! " said he. 

The Fore and Aft, heading hack, bore with 
them their officers. The narrowness of the pass 
forced the mob into solid formation, and the 
rear-rank delivered some sort of a wavering vol- 
ley. The Ghazis drew off, for they did not know 
what reserves the gorge might hide. Moreover, 
it was never wise to chase white men too far. 
They returned as wolves return to cover, satis- 
fied with the slaughter that they had done, and 
only stopping to slash at the wounded on the 
ground. A quarter of a mile had the Fore and 
Aft retreated, and now, jammed in the pass, was 
quivering with pain, shaken and demoralized 
with fear, while the officers, maddened beyond 
control, smote the men with the hilts and the 
flats of their swords. 

"Get back! Get back, you cowards — you 
women! Right about face — column of compan- 
ies, form — you hounds!" shouted the Colonel, 
and the subalterns swore aloud. But the Regi- 
ment wanted to go — to go anywhere out of the 
range of those merciless knives. It swayed to 
and fro irresolutely with shouts and outcries, 
while from the right the Gurkhas dropped volley 
after volley of cripple-stopper Snider bullets at 
long range into the mob of the Ghazis returning 
to their own troops. 

266 Indian Tales 

The Fore and Aft Band, though protected 
from direct fire by the rocky knoll under which 
it had sat down, fled at the first rush. Jakin and 
Lew would have fled also, but their short legs 
left them fifty yards in the rear, and by the time 
the Band had mixed with the regiment, they were 
painfully aware that they would have to close in 
alone and unsupported. 

"Get back to that rock," gasped Jakin. 
"They won't see us there." 

And they returned to the scattered instruments 
of the Band ; their hearts nearly bursting their ribs. 

"Here's a nice show for «s." said Jakin, 
throwing himself full length on the ground. 
"A bloomin' fine show for British Infantry! Oh, 
the devils! They've gone an' left us alone here! 
Wot'll we do.?" 

Lew took possession of a cast-off water bottle, 
which naturally was full of canteen rum, and 
drank till he coughed again. 

"Drink," said he, shortly. "They'll come 
back in a minute or two — you see." 

Jakin drank, but there was no sign of the regi- 
ment's return. They could hear a dull clamor 
from the head of the valley of retreat, and saw 
the Ghazis slink back, quickening their pace as 
the Gurkhas fired at them. 

"We're all that's left of the Band, an' we'll be 
cut up as sure as death," said Jakin. 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 267 

"I'll die game, then," said Lew, tiiickly, fum- 
bling with his tiny drummer's sword. The 
drink was working on his brain as it was on 

"'Old on! I know something better than 
fightin'," said Jakin, "stung by the splendor of a 
sudden thought" due chiefly to rum. "Tip our 
bloomin' cowards yonder the word to come back. 
The Paythan beggars are well away. Come on, 
Lew! We won't get hurt. Take the fife an' 
give me the drum. The Old Step for all your 
bloomin' guts are worth! There's a few of our 
men coming back now. Stand up, ye drunken 
little defaulter. By your right — quick march ! " 

He slipped the drum-sling over his shoulder, 
thrust the fife into Lew's hand, and the two boys 
marched out of the cover of the rock into the 
open, making a hideous hash of the first bars of 
the "British Grenadiers." 

As Lew had said, a few of the Fore and Aft 
were coming back sullenly and shamefacedly 
under the stimulus of blows and abuse; their red 
coats shone at the head of the valley, and behind 
them were wavering bayonets. But between 
this shattered line and the enemy, who with Af- 
ghan suspicion feared that the hasty retreat 
meant an ambush, and had not moved therefore, 
lay half a mile of a level ground dotted only by 
the wounded. 

268 Indian Tales 

The tune settled into full swing and the boys 
kept shoulder to shoulder, Jakin banging the 
drum as one possessed. The one fife made a 
thin and pitiful squeaking, but the tune carried 
far, even to the Gurkhas. 

"Come on, you dogs!" muttered Jakin, to 
himself. "Are we to play forhever.?" Lew 
was staring straight in front of him and march- 
ing more stiffly than ever he had done on parade. 

And in bitter mockery of the distant mob, the 
old tune of the Old Line shrilled and rattled: 

Some talk of Alexander, 

And some of Hercules ; 
Of Hector and Lysander, 

And such great names as these ! 

There was a far-off clapping of hands from 
the Gurkhas, and a roar from, the Highlanders in 
the distance, but never a shot was fired by Brit- 
ish or Afghan. The two little red dots moved 
forward in the open parallel to the enemy's front. 

But of all the world's great heroes 
There's none that can compare, 

With a tow-row-row-row-rovv-row, 
To the British Grenadier ! 

The men of the Fore and Aft were gathering 
thick at the entrance into ihe plain. The Briga- 
dier on the heights far above was speechless with 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 269 

rage. Still no movement from the enemy. The 
day stayed to watch the children. 

Jakin halted and beat the long roll of the As- 
sembly, while the fife squealed despairingly. 

"Right about face! Hold up, Lew, you're 
drunk," said Jakin. They wheeled and marched 
back : 

Those heroes of antiquity 

Ne'er saw a cannon-ball, 
Nor knew the force o' powder, 

"Here they come!" said Jakin. "Go on. 
Lew: " 

To scare their foes withal ! 

The Fore and Aft were pouring out of the val- 
ley. What officers had said to men in that time 
of shame and humiliation will never be known; 
for neither officers nor men speak of it now. 

"They are coming anew! " shouted a priest 
among the Afghans. "Do not kill the boysl 
Take them alive, and they shall be of our faith." 

But the first volley had been fired, and Lew 
dropped on his face. Jakin stood for a minute, 
spun round and collapsed, as the Fore and Aft 
came forward, the maledictions of their officers 
in their ears, and in their hearts the shame of 
open shame. 

Half the men had seen the drummers die, and 
they made no sign. They did not even shout. 

270 Indian Tales 

They doubled out straight across the plain in open 
order, and they did not fire. 

"This," said the Colonel of Gurkhas, softly, 
"is the real attack, as it ought to have been de- 
livered. Come on, my children." 

" Ulu-lu-lu-lu! " squealed the Gurkhas, and 
came down with a joyful clicking of kukris — 
those vicious Gurkha knives. 

On the right there was no rush. The High- 
landers, cannily commending their souls to God 
(for it matters as much to a dead man whether 
he has been shot in a Border scuffle or at Water- 
loo) opened out and fired according to their cus- 
tom, that is to say without heat and without in- 
tervals, while the screw-guns, having disposed 
of the impertinent mud fort aforementioned, 
dropped shell after shell into the clusters round 
the flickering green standards on the heights. 

"Charrging is an unfortunate necessity," mur- 
mured the Color-Sergeant of the right company 
of the Highlanders. 

*•' It makes the men sweer so, but I am thinkin' 
that it will come to a charrge if these black devils 
stand much longer. Stewarrt, man, you're firing 
into the eye of the sun, and he'll not take any 
harm for Government ammuneetion. A foot 
lower and a great deal slower! What are the 
English doing.? They're very quiet there in the 
centre. Running again ? " 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 271 

The English were not running. They were 
hacking and hewing and stabbing, for though one 
white rnan is seldom physically a match for an 
Afghan in a sheepskin or wadded coat, yet, 
through the pressure of many white men behind, 
and a certain thirst for revenge in his heart, he 
becomes capable of doing much with both ends 
of his rifle. The Fore and Aft held their fire till 
one bullet could drive through five or six men, 
and the front of the Afghan force gave on the 
volley. They then selected their men, and slew 
them with deep gasps and short hacking coughs, 
and groanings of leather belts against strained 
bodies, and realized for the first time that an 
Afghan attacked is far less formidable than an 
Afghan attacking; which fact old soldiers might 
have told them. 

But they had no old soldiers in their ranks. 

The Gurkhas' stall at the bazar was the noisiest, 
for the men were engaged — to a nasty noise as 
of beef being cut on the block — with the kukri, 
which they preferred to the bayonet ; well know- 
ing how the Afghan hates the half-moon blade. 

As the Afghans wavered, the green standards 
on the mountain moved down to assist them in 
a last rally. Which was unwise. The Lancers 
chafing in the right gorge had thrice despatched 
their only subaltern as galloper to report on the 
progress of affairs. On the third occasion he rC' 

2/2 Indian Tales 

turned, with a bullet-graze on his knee, swearing 
strange oaths in Hindoostani, and saying that all 
things were ready. So that Squadron swung 
round the right of the Highlanders with a wicked 
whistling of wind in the pennons of its lances, 
and fell upon the remnant just when, according 
to all the rules of war, it should have waited for 
the foe to show more signs of wavering. 

But it was a dainty charge, deftly delivered, 
and it ended by the Cavalry finding itself at the 
head of the pass by which the Afghans intended 
to retreat; and down the track that the lances had 
made streamed two companies of the Highland- 
ers, which was never intended by the Brigadier, 
The new development was successful. It de- 
tached the enemy from his base as a sponge is 
torn from a rock, and left him ringed about with 
fire in that pitiless plain. And as a sponge is 
chased round the bath-tub by the hand of the 
bather, so were the Afghans chased till they 
broke into little detachments much more difficult 
to dispose of than large masses. 

" See ! " quoth the Brigadier. " Everything has 
come as 1 arranged. We've cut their base, and 
now we'll bucket 'em to pieces." 

A direct hammering was all that the Brigadier 
had dared to hope for, considering the size of the 
force at his disposal; but men who stand or fall 
by the errors of their opponents may be forgiven 

The Drums of the Fore and Aft 273 

for turning Chance into Design. The bucketing 
went forward merrily. The Afghan forces were 
upon the run — the run of wearied wolves who 
snarl and bite over their shoulders. The red 
lances dipped by twos and threes, and, with a 
shriek, up rose the lance-butt, like a spar on a 
stormy sea, as the trooper cantering forward 
cleared his point. The Lancers kept between 
their prey and the steep hills, for all who could 
were trying to escape from the valley of death. 
The Highlanders gave the fugitives two hundred 
yards' law, and then brought them down, gasp- 
ing and choking ere they could reach the protec- 
tion of the bowlders above. The Gurkhas fol- 
lowed suit; but the Fore and Aft were killing on 
their own account, for they had penned a mass 
of men between their bayonets and a wall of 
rock, and the flash of the rifles was lighting the 
wadded coats. 

"We cannot hold them, Captain Sahib!" 
panted a Ressaidar of Lancers. " Let us try the 
carbine. The lance is good, but it wastes time." 

They tried the carbine, and still the enemy 
melted away — fled up the hills by hundreds when 
there were only twenty bullets to stop them. On 
the heights the screw-guns ceased firing — they 
had run out of ammunition — and the Brigadier 
groaned, for the musketry fire could not suffi- 
ciently smash the retreat. Long before the last 

274 Indian Tales 

volleys were fired, the litters were out in force 
looking for the wounded. The battle was over, 
and, but for want of fresh troops, the Afghans 
would have been wiped off the earth. As it was 
they counted their dead by hundreds, and no- 
where were the dead thicker than in the track of 
the Fore and Aft. 

But the Regiment did not cheer with the High- 
landers, nor did they dance uncouth dances with 
the Gurkhas among the dead. They looked 
under their brows at the Colonel as they leaned 
upon their rifles and panted. 

"Get back to camp, you. Haven't you dis- 
graced yourself enough for one day! Go and 
look to the wounded. It's all you're fit for," 
said the Colonel. Yet for the past hour the Fore 
and Aft had been doing all that mortal com- 
mander could expect- They had lost heavily be- 
cause they did not know how to set about their 
business with proper skill, but they had borne 
themselves gallantly, and this was their reward. 

A young and sprightly Color-Sergeant, who 
had begun to imagine himself a hero, offered his 
water-bottle to a Highlander, whose tongue was 
black with thirst. "I drink with no cowards," 
answered the youngster, huskily, and, turning to 
a Gurkha, said, " Hya, Johnny! Drink water got 
it.?'' The Gurkha grinned and passed his bottle. 
The Fore and Aft said no word. 

77?^ Drums of the Fore and Aft 275 

They went back to camp when the field of 
strife had been a little mopped up and made 
presentable, and the Brigadier, who saw himself 
a Knight in three months, was the only soul who 
was complimentary to them. The Colonel was 
heart-broken and the officers were savage and 

"Well," said the Brigadier, "they are young 
troops of course, and it was not unnatural that 
they should retire in disorder for a bit." 

"Oh, my only Aunt Maria! " murmured a jun- 
ior Staff Officer. " Retire in disorder! It was a 
bally run! " 

" But they came again as we all know," cooed 
the Brigadier, the Colonel's ashy-white face be- 
fore him, "and they behaved as well as could 
possibly be expected. Behaved beautifully, in- 
deed. 1 was watching them. It's not a matter 
to take to heart, Colonel. As some German 
General said of his men, they wanted to be 
shooted over a little, that was all." To himself 
he said: *' Now they're blooded I can give 'em 
t'esponsible work. It's as well that they got 
what they did. 'Teach 'em more than half a 
dozen rifle flirtations, that will — later — run alone 
and bite. Poor old Colonel, though." 

All that afternoon the heliograph winked and 
flickered on the hills, striving to tell the good 
news to a mountain forty miles away. And in 

276 Indian Tales 

the evening there arrived, dusty, sweating, and 
sore, a misguided Correspondent who had gone 
out to assist at a trumpery village-burning and 
who had read off the message from afar, cursing 
his luck the while. 

"Let's have the details somehow — as full as 
ever you can, please. It's the first time I've ever 
been left this campaign," said the Correspondent 
to the Brigadier; and the Brigadier, nothing loath, 
told him how an Army of Communication had 
been crumpled up, destroyed, and all but anni- 
hilated by the craft, strategy, wisdom, and fore- 
sight of the Brigadier. 

But some say, and among these be the Gurkhas 
who watched on the hillside, that that battle was 
won by Jakin and Lew, whose little bodies were 
borne up just in time to fit two gaps at the head 
of the big ditch-grave for the dead under the 
heights of Jagai. 


When the Devil rides on your chest remember the ckaviar.— 
Amative Proverb. 

ONCE upon a time, some people in India 
made a new Heaven and a new Earth out 
of broken tea-cups, a missing brooch or two, 
and a hair-brush. These were hidden under 
brushes, or stuffed into holes in the hillside, 
and an entire Civil Service of subordinate Gods 
used to find or mend them- again; and every one 
said: "There are more things in Heaven and 
Earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy." 
Several other things happened also, but the Re- 
ligion never seemed to get much beyond its first 
manifestations; though it added an air-line postal 
service, and orchestral effects in order to keep 
abreast of the times, and choke off competition. 
This Religion was too elastic for ordinary use. 
It stretched itself and embraced pieces of every- 
thing that the medicine-men of all ages have 
manufactured. It approved of and stole from 
Freemasonry; looted the Latter-day Rosicrucians 
of half their pet words; took any fragments of 
Egyptian philosophy that it found in the Ency- 
clopoedia Britannica ; annexed as many of the 

2/8 Indian Tales 

Vedas as had been translated into French or Eng- 
lish, and talked of all the rest; built in the Ger- 
man versions of what is left of the Zend Avesta; 
encouraged White, Grey and Black Magic, in- 
cluding spiritualism, palmistry, fortune-telling by 
cards, hot chestnuts, double-kerneled nuts and 
tallow droppings; would have adopted Voodoo 
and Oboe had it known anything about them, 
and showed itself, in every way, one of the most 
accommodating arrangements that had ever been 
invented since the birth of the Sea. 

When it was in thorough working order, with 
all the machinery, down to the subscriptions, 
complete,. Dana Da came from nowhere, with 
nothing in his hands, and wrote a chapter in its 
history which has hitherto been unpublished. 
He said that his first name was Dana, and his 
second was Da. Now, setting aside Dana of the 
New York Sun, Dana is a Bhil name, and Da fits 
no native of India unless you except the Bengali. 
De as the original spelling. Da is Lap or Finnish; 
and Dana Da was neither Finn, Chin, Bhil, Ben- 
gali, Lap, Nair, Gond, Romaney, Magh, Bok- 
hariot, Kurd, Armenian, Levantine, Jew, Per- 
sian, Punjabi, Madrasi, Parsee, nor anything else 
known to ethnologists. He was simply Dana 
Da, and declined to give further information. 
For the sake of brevity and as roughly indicating 
his origin, he was called "The Native." He 

The Sending of Dana Da 279 

might have been the original Old Man of the 
Mountains, who is said to be the only authorized 
head of the Tea-cup Creed. Some people said 
that he was; but Dana Da used to smile and deny 
any connection with the cult; explaining that he 
was an "Independent Experimenter." 

As 1 have said, he came from nowhere, with 
his hands behind his back, and studied the Creed 
for three weeks; sitting at the feet of those best 
competent to explain its mysteries. Then he 
laughed aloud and went away, but the laugh 
might have been either of devotion or derision. 

When he returned he was without m.oney, but 
his pride was unabated. He declared that he 
knew more about the Things in Heaven and 
Earth than those who taught him, and for this 
contumacy was abandoned altogether. 

His next appearance in public life was at a big 
cantonment in Upper India, and he was then tell- 
ing fortunes with the help of three leaden dice, a 
very dirty old cloth, and a little tin box of opium 
pills. He told better fortunes when he was al- 
lowed half a bottle of whiskey; but the things 
which he invented on the opium were quite 
worth the money. He was in reduced circum- 
stances. Among other people's he told the foi- 
tune of an Englishman who had once been inter- 
ested in the Simla Creed, but who, later on, had 
married and forgrotten all his old knowledare in 

28o Indian Tales 

the study of babies and things. The Englishman 
allowed Dana Da to tell a fortune for charity's 
sake, and gave him five rupees, a dinner, and 
some old clothes. When he had eaten, Dana Da 
professed gratitude, and asked if there were any- 
thing he could do for his host — in the esoteric line. 

" Is there any one that you love .^" said Dana 
Da. The Englishman loved his wife, but had no 
desire to drag her name into the conversation. 
He therefore shook his head. 

"Is there any one that you hate.?" said Dana 
Da. The Englishman said that there were sev- 
eral men whom he hated deeply. 

"Very good," said Dana Da, upon whom the 
whiskey and the opium were beginning to tell. 
"Only give me their names, and 1 will despatch 
a Sending to them and kill them." 

Now a Sending is a horrible arrangement, first 
invented, they say, in Iceland. It is a Thing sent 
by a wizard, and may take any form, but, most 
generally, wanders about the land in the shape 
of a little purple cloud till it finds the Sendee, 
and him it kills by changing into the form of a 
horse, or a cat, or a without a face. It is 
not strictly a native patent, though chamars of 
the skin and hide castes can, if irritated, despatch 
a Sending which sits on the breast of their enemy 
by night and nearly kills him. Very few natives 
care to irritate chamars for this reason. 

The Sending of Dana Da 281 

"Let me despatch a Sending," said Dana Da; 
" I am nearly dead now witii want, and drink, 
and opium; but I should like to kill a man before 
I die. I can send a Sending anywhere you 
choose, and in any form except in the shape of a 

The Englishman had no friends that he wished 
to kill, but partly to soothe Dana Da, whose eyes 
were rolling, and partly to see what would be 
done, he asked whether a modified Sending could 
not be arranged for — such a Sending as should 
make a man's life a burden to him, and yet do 
him no harm. If this were possible, he notified 
his willingness to give Dana Da ten rupees for 
the job. 

"1 am not what I was once," said Dana Da, 
"and I must take the money because I am poor. 
To what Englishman shall I send it } " 

"Send a Sending to Lone Sahib," said the 
Englishman, naming a man who had been most 
bitter in rebuking him for his apostasy from the 
Tea-cup Creed. Dana Da laughed and nodded. 

"! could have chosen no better man myself," 
said he. "1 will see that he finds the Sending 
about his path and about his bed." 

He lay down on the hearth-rug, turned up the 
whites of his eyes, shivered all over and began 
to snort. This was Magic, or Opium, or the 
Sending, or all three. When he opened his eyes 

282 Indian Tales 

he vowed that the Sending had started upon the 
war-path, and was at that moment flying up to 
the town where Lone Sahib Hves. 

"Give me my ten rupees," said Dana Da, 
wearily, " and write a letter to Lone Sahib, telling 
him, and all who believe with him, that you and 
a friend are using a power greater than theirs. 
They will see that you are speaking the truth." 

He departed unsteadily, with the promise of 
some more rupees if anything came of the Send- 

The Englishman sent a letter to Lone Sahib, 
couched in what he remembered of the terminol- 
ogy of the Creed. He wrote: "I also, in the 
days of what you held to be my backsliding, 
have obtained Enlightenment, and with Enlight- 
enment has come Power." Then he grew so 
deeply mysterious that the recipient of the letter 
could make neither head nor tail of it, and was 
proportionately impressed; for he fancied that 
his friend had become a "fifth-rounder." When 
a man is a "fifth-rounder" he can do more than 
Slade and Houdin combined. 

Lone Sahib read the letter in five different fash- 
ions, and was beginning a sixth interpretation 
when his bearer dashed in with the news that 
there was a cat on the bed. Now if there was 
one thing that Lone Sahib hated more than an- 
other, it was a cat. He scolded the bearer for 

The Sending of Dana Da 283 

not turning it out of the house. The bearer said 
that he was afraid. All the doors of the bedroom 
had been shut throughout the morning, and no 
real cat could possibly have entered the room. 
He would prefer not to meddle with the creature. 

Lone Sahib entered the room gingerly, and 
there, on the pillow of his bed, sprawled and 
whimpered a wee white kitten; not a jumpsome, 
frisky little beast, but a slug-like crawler with its 
eyes barely opened and its paws lacking strength 
or direction — a kitten that ought to have been in 
a basket with its mamma. Lone Sahib caught 
it by the scurff of its neck, handed it over to the 
sweeper to be drowned, and fined the bearer 
four annas. 

That evening, as he was reading in his room, 
he fancied that he saw something moving about 
on the hearth-rug, outside the circle of light from 
his reading-lamp. When the thing began to 
myowl, he realized that it was a kitten — a wee 
white kitten, nearly blind and very miserable. 
He was seriously angry, and spoke bitterly to his 
bearer, who said that there was no kitten in the 
room when he brought in the lamp, and real 
kittens of tender age generally had mother-cats 
in attendance. 

" If the Presence will go out into the veranda 
and listen," said the bearer, "he will hear no 
cats. How, therefore, can the kitten on the 

284 Indian Tales 

bed and the kitten on the hearth-rug be real kit- 

Lone Sahib went out to listen, and the bearer 
followed him, but there was no sound of any one 
mewing for her children. He returned to his 
room, having hurled the kitten down the hillside, 
and wrote out the incidents of the day for the 
benefit of his co-religionists. Those people were 
so absolutely free from superstition that they as- 
cribed anything a little out of the common to 
Agencies. As it was their business to know all 
about the Agencies, they were on terms of al- 
most indecent familiarity with Manifestations of 
every kind. Their letters dropped from the ceil- 
ing — unstamped — and Spirits used to squatter up 
and down their staircases all night; but they had 
never come into contact with kittens. Lone 
Sahib wrote out the facts, noting the hour and 
the minute, as every Psychical Observer is bound 
to do, and appending the Englishman's letter be- 
cause it was the most mysterious document and 
might have had a bearing upon anything in this 
world or the next. An outsider would have 
translated all the tangle thus: " Look out! You 
laughed at me once, and now 1 am going to 
make you sit up." 

Lone Sahib's co-religionists found that meaning 
in it; but their translation was refined and full of 
four-syllable words. They held a sederunt, and 

The Sending of Dana Da 285 

were filled with tremulous joy, for, in spite of 
their familiarity with all the other worlds and 
cycles, they had a very human awe of things 
sent from Ghost-land. They met in Lone Sahib's 
room in shrouded and sepulchral gloom, and 
their conclave was broken up by clinking among 
the photo-frames on the mantelpiece. A wee 
white kitten, nearly blind, was looping and 
writhing itself between the clock and the candle- 
oticks. That stopped all investigations or doubt- 
ings. Here was the Manifestation in the flesh. 
It was, so far as could be seen, devoid of pur- 
pose, but it was a Manifestation of undoubted 

They drafted a Round Robin to the English- 
man, the backslider of old days, adjuring him in 
the interests of the Creed to explain whether 
there was any connection between the embodi- 
ment of some Egyptian God or other (1 have for- 
gotten the name) and his communication. They 
called the kitten Ra, or Toth, or Tum, or some 
thing; and when Lone Sahib confessed that the 
first one had, at his most misguided instance, been 
drowned by the sweeper, they said consolingly 
that in his next life he would be a "bounder," 
and not even a "rounder" of the lowest grade. 
These words may not be quite correct, but they 
accurately express the sense of the house. 

When the Englishman received the Round 

286 Indian Tales 

Robin — it came by post — he was startled and be- 
wildered. He sent into tlie bazar for Dana Da, 
who read the letter and laughed. "That is my 
Sending," said he. "1 told you 1 would work 
well. Now give me another ten rupees." 

" But what in the world is this gibberish about 
Egyptian Gods?" asked the Englishman. 

"Cats," said Dana Da, with a hiccough, for he 
had discovered the Englishman's whiskey bottle. 
"Cats, and cats, and cats! Never was such a 
Sending. A hundred of cats. Now give me ten 
more rupees and write as 1 dictate." 

Dana Da's letter was a curiosity. It bore the 
Englishman's signature, and hinted at cats — at a 
Sending of Cats. The mere words on paper 
were creepy and uncanny to behold. 

"What have you done, though?" said ths 
Englishman; " 1 am as much in the dark as ever. 
Do you mean to say that you can actually send 
this absurd Sending you talk about?" 

"Judge for yourself," said Dana Da. " What 
does that letter mean ? In a little time they will 
all be at my feet and yours, and I — O Glory! — 
will be drugged or drunk all day long." 

Dana Da knew his people. 

When a man who hates cats wakes up in the 
morning and finds a little squirming kitten on his 
breast, or puts his hands into his ulster-pocket 
and finds a little half-dead kitten where his 

The Sending of Dana Da 287 

gloves should be, or opens his trunk and finds 
a vile kitten among his dress-shirts, or goes for 
a long ride with his mackintosh strapped on his 
saddle-bow and shakes a little squawling kitten 
from its folds when he opens it, or goes out to 
dinner and finds a little blind kitten under his 
chair, or stays at home and finds a writhing kit- 
ten under the quilt, or wriggling among his boots, 
or hanging, head downward, in his tobacco-jar, 
or being mangled by his terrier in the veranda, — 
when such a man finds one kitten, neither more 
nor less, once a day in a place where no kitten 
rightly could or should be, he is naturally upset. 
When he dare not murder his daily trove be- 
cause he believes it to be a Manifestation, an 
Emissary, an Embodiment, and half a dozen 
other things all out of the regular course of 
nature, he is more than upset. He is actually dis- 
tressed. Some of Lone Sahib's co-religionists 
thought that he was a highly favored individual; 
but many said that if he had treated the first kit- 
ten with proper respect — as suited a Toth-Ra- 
Tum-Sennacherib Embodiment — all this trouble 
would have been averted. They compared him 
to the Ancient Mariner, but none the less they 
were proud of him and proud of the Englishman 
who had sent the Manifestation. They did not 
call it a Sending because Icelandic magic was not 
in their programme. 

288 Indian Tales 

After sixteen kittens, that is to say after one 
fortnight, for there were three kittens on the first 
day to impress the fact of the Sending, the whole 
camp was uplifted by a letter — it came flying 
through a window — from the Old Man of the 
Mountains — the Head of all the Creed — explain- 
ing the Manifestation in the most beautiful lan- 
guage and soaking up all the credit of it for him- 
self. The Englishman, said the letter, was not 
there at all. He was a backslider without Power 
or Asceticism, who couldn't even raise a table by 
force of volition, much less project an army of 
kittens through space. The entire arrangement, 
said the letter, was strictly orthodox, worked and 
sanctioned by the highest Authorities within the 
pale of the Creed. There was great joy at this, 
for some of the weaker brethren seeing that an 
outsider who had been working on independent 
lines could create kittens, whereas their own 
rulers had never gone beyond crockery — and 
broken at best — were showing a desire to break 
line on their own trail. In fact, there was the 
promise of a schism. A second Round Robin 
was drafted to the Englishman, beginning: " O 
Scoffer," and ending with a selection of curses 
from the Rites of Mizraim and Memphis and the 
Commination of Jugana, who was a "fifth- 
rounder," upon whose name an unstart "third- 
rounder" once traded. A papal excommunica- 

The Sending of Dana Da 289 

tion is a billet-doux compared to the Commina- 
tion of Jugana, The Englishman had been 
proved, under the hand and seal of the Old Man 
of the Mountains, to have appropriated Virtue 
and pretended to have Power which, in reality, 
belonged only to the Supreme Head. Naturally 
the Round Robin did not spare him. 

He handed the letter to Dana Da to translate 
into decent English. The effect on Dana Da was 
curious. At first he was furiously angry, and 
then he laughed for five minutes. 

"I had thought," he said, "that they would 
have come to me. In another week I would 
have shown that I sent the Sending, and they 
would have discrowned the Old Man of the 
Mountains who has sent this Sending of mine. 
Do you do nothing. The time has come for me 
to act. Write as 1 dictate, and I will put them to 
shame. But give me ten more rupees." 

At Dana Da's dictation the Englishman wrote 
nothing less than a formal challenge to the Old 
Man of the Mountains. It wourtd up: *'And if 
this Manifestation be from your hand, then let it 
go forward; but if it be from my hand. 1 will 
that the Sending shall cease in two days' time. 
On that day there shall be twelve kittens and 
thenceforward none at all. The people shall 
judge between us," This was signed by Dana 
Da, who added pentacles and pentagrams, and a 

290 Indian Tales 

crux ansaia, and half a dozen swastikas, and a 
Triple Tau to his name, just to show that he was 
all he laid claim to be. 

The challenge was read out to the gentlemen 
and ladies, and they remembered then that Dana 
Da had laughed at them some years ago. It was 
officially announced that the Old Man of the 
Mountains would treat the matter with contempt; 
Dana Da being an Independent Investigator with- 
out a single "round" at the back of him. But 
this did not soothe his people. They wanted to 
see a fight. They were very human for all their 
spirituality. Lone Sahib, who was really being 
worn out with kittens, submitted meekly to his 
fate. He felt that he was being "kittened to 
prove the power of Dana Da," as the poet says. 

When the stated day dawned, the shower of 
kittens began. Some were white and some were 
tabby, and all were about the same loathsome 
age. Three were on his hearth-rug, three in his 
bath-room, and the other six turned up at inter- 
vals among the visitors who came to see the 
prophecy break down. Never was a more satis- 
factory Sending. On the next day there were no 
kittens, and the next day and all the other days 
were kittenless and quiet. The people murmured 
and looked to the Old Man of the Mountains for 
an explanation. A letter, written on a palm-leaf, 
dropped from the ceiling, but every one except 

The Sending of Dana Da 291 

Lone Sahib felt that letters were not what the 
occasion demanded. There should have been 
cats, there should have been cats, — full-grown 
ones. The letter proved conclusively that there 
had been a hitch in the Psychic Current which, 
colliding with a Dual Identity, had interfered 
with the Percipient Activity all along the main 
line. The kittens were still going on, but owing 
to some failure in the Developing Fluid, they 
were not materialized. The air was thick with 
letters for a few days afterward. Unseen hands 
played Gliick and Beethoven on finger-bowls and 
clock-shades; but all men felt that Psychic Life 
was a mockery without materialized Kittens. 
Even Lone Sahib shouted with the majority on 
this head. Dana Da's letters were very insulting, 
and if he had then offered to lead a new depar- 
ture, there is no knowing what might not have 

But Dana Da was dying of whiskey and opium 
in the Englishman's godown, and had small heart 
for honors. 

"They have been put to shame," said he. 
"Never was such a Sending. It has killed me." 

"Nonsense," said the Englishman, "you are 
going to die, Dana Da, and that sort of stuff 
must be left behind. I'll admit that you have 
made some queer things come about. Tell me 
honestly, now, how was it done }" 

292 Indian Tales 

"Give me ten more rupees," said Dana Da, 
faintly, "and if I die before 1 spend Ihem, bury 
them witii me." The silver was counted out 
while Dana Da was fighting with Death. His 
hand closed upon the money and he smiled a 
grim smile. 

" Bend low," he whispered. The Englishman 

" Bimiiia — Mission - school — expelled — box - 
wallah (peddler) — Ceylon pearl-merchant — all 
mine English education — out-casted, and made 
up name Dana Da — England with American 
thought-reading man and — and — you gave me 
ten rupees several times — 1 gave the Sahib's 
bearer two-eight a month for cats — little, little 
cats. I wrote, and he put them about — very 
clever man. Very few kittens now in the ba^ar. 
Ask Lone Sahib's sweeper's wife." 

So saying, Dana Da gasped and passed away 
into a land where, if all be true, there are no 
materializations and the making of new creeds is 

But consider the gorgeous simplicity of it all I 


Then she let them down by a cord through the window ; for 
her house was upon the town-wall, and she dwelt upon the 
wall. — Joshua ii. 15. 

LALUN is a member of the most ancient pro- 
fession in the world. Lilith was her very- 
great-grandmamma, and that was before the 
days of Eve as every one knows, hi the West, 
people say rude things about Lalun's profession, 
and write lectures about it, and distribute the 
lectures to young persons in order that Morality 
may be preserved. In the East where the pro- 
fession is hereditary, descending from mother to 
daughter, nobody writes lectures or takes any 
notice; and that is a distinct proof of the inability 
of the East to manage its own affairs. 

Lalun's real husband, for even ladies of Lalun's 
profession in the East must have husbands, was 
a big jujube-tree. Her Mamma, who had mar- 
ried a fig-tree, spent ten thousand rupees on 
Lalun's wedding, which was blessed by forty- 
seven clergymen of Mamma's church, and dis- 
tributed five thousand rupees in charity to the 
poor. And that was the custom of the land. 
The advantages of having a jujube-tree for a 


294 Indian Tales 

husband are obvious. You cannot hurt his feel- 
ings, and he looks imposing. 

Lalun's husband stood on the plain outside the 
City walls, and Lalun's house was upon the east 
Wall facing the river. If you fell from the broad 
window-seat you dropped thirty feet sheer into 
the City Ditch. But if you stayed where you 
should and looked forth, you saw all the cattle 
of the City being driven down to water, the 
students of the Government College playing 
cricket, the high grass and trees that fringed the 
liver-bank, the great sand bars that ribbed the 
river, the red tombs of dead Emperors beyond 
the river, and very far away through the blue 
heat-haze, a glint of the snows of the Himalayas. 

Wall Dad used to lie in the window-seat for 
hours at a time watching this view. He was a 
young Muhammadan who was suffering acutely 
from education of the English variety and knew 
it. His father had sent him to a Mission-school 
to get wisdom, and Wall Dad had absorbed more 
than ever his father or the Missionaries intended 
he should. When his father died, Wall Dad was 
independent and spent two years experimenting 
with the creeds of the Earth and reading books 
that are of no use to anybody. 

After he had made an unsuccessful attempt to 
enter the Roman Catholic Church and the Pres- 
byterian fold at the same time (the Missionaries 

On the City Wall 295 

found him out and called him names, but they 
did not understand his trouble), he discovered 
Lalun on the City wall and became the most con- 
stant of her few admirers. He possessed a head 
that English artists at home would rave over and 
paint amid impossible surroundings — a face that 
female novelists would use with delight through 
nine hundred pages. In reality he was only a 
clean-bred young Muhammadan, with penciled 
eyebrows, small-cut nostrils, little feet and 
hands, and a very tired look in his eyes. By vir- 
tue of his twenty-two years he had grown a neat 
black beard which he stroked with pride and 
kept delicately scented. His life seemed to be 
divided between borrowing books from me and 
making love to Lalun in the window-seat. He 
composed songs about her, and some of the 
songs are sung to this day in the City from the 
Street of the Mutton-Butchers to the Copper- 
Smiths' ward. 

One song, the prettiest of all, says that the 
beauty of Lalun was so great that it troubled the 
hearts of the British Government and caused 
them to lose their peace of mind. That is the 
way the song is sung in the streets; but, if you 
examine it carefully and know the key to the ex- 
planation, you will find that there are three puns 
in it — on "beauty," "heart," and "peace of 
mind," — so that it runs: "By the subtlety of 

296 Indian Tales- 

Lalun the administration of the Government was 
troubled and it lost such and such a man." 
When Wall Dad sings that song his eyes glow 
like hot coals, and Lalun leans back among the 
cushions and throws bunches of jasmine-buds at 
Wall Dad. 

But first it is necessary to explain something 
about the Supreme Government which is above 
all and below all and behind all. Gentlemen 
come from England, spend a few weeks in India, 
walk round this great Sphinx of the Plains, and 
write books upon its ways and its works, de- 
nouncing or praising it as their own ignorance 
prompts. Consequently all the world knows 
how the Supreme Government conducts itself. 
But no one, not even the Supreme Government, 
knows everything about the administration of the 
Empire. Year by year England sends out fresh 
drafts for the first fighting-line, which is officially 
called the Indian Civil Service. These die, or kill 
themselves by overwork, or are worried to death 
or broken in health and hope in order that the 
land may be protected from death and sickness, 
famine and war, and may eventually become 
capable of standing alone. It will never stand 
alone, but the idea is a pretty one, and men are 
willing to die for it, and yearly the work of push- 
ing and coaxing and scolding and petting the 
country into good living goes forward. If an 

On the City Wall 297 

advance be made all credit is given to the native, 
while the Englishmen stand back and wipe their 
foreheads. If a failure occurs the Englishmen 
step forward and take the blame. Overmuch 
tenderness of this kind has bred a strong belief 
among many natives that the native is capable of 
administering the country, and many devout 
Englishmen believe this also, because the theory 
is stated in beautiful English with all the latest 
political color. 

There be other men who, though uneducated, 
see visions and dream dreams, and they, too, 
hope to administer the country in their own way 
— that is to say, with a garnish of Red Sauce. 
Such men must exist among two hundred million 
people, and, if they are not attended to, may 
cause trouble and even break the great idol called 
Pax Britannic, which, as the newspapers say, 
lives between Peshawur and Cape Comorin. 
Were the Day of Doom to dawn to-morrow, you 
would find the Supreme Government "taking 
measures to allay popular excitement" and put- 
ting guards upon the graveyards that the Dead 
might troop forth orderly. The youngest Civil- 
ian would arrest Gabriel on his own responsibil- 
ity if the Archangel could not produce a Deputy 
Commissioner's permission to " make music or 
other noises " as the license says. 

Whence it is easy to see that mere men of the 

298 Indian Tales 

flesh who would create a tumult must fare badly 
at the hands of the Supreme Government. And 
they do. There is no outward sign of excite- 
ment; there is no confusion; there is no knowl- 
edge. When due and sufficient reasons have 
been given, weighed and approved, the machin- 
ery moves forward, and the dreamer of dreams 
and the seer of visions is gone from his friends 
and following. He enjoys the hospitality of 
Government; there is no restriction upon his 
movements within certain limits; but he must 
not confer any more with his brother dreamers. 
Once in every six months the Supreme Govern- 
ment assures itself that he is well and takes 
formal acknowledgment of his existence. No one 
protests against his detention, because the few 
people who know about it are in deadly fear of 
seeming to know him; and never a single news- 
paper "takes up his case" or organizes demon- 
strations on his behalf, because the newspapers 
of India have got behind that lying proverb 
which says the Pen is mightier than the Sword, 
and can walk delicately. 

So now you know as much as you ought 
about Wali Dad, the educational mixture, and 
the Supreme Government. 

Lalun has not yet been described. She would 
need, so Wali Dad says, a thousand pens of gold 
and ink scented with musk. She has been vari- 

On the City Wall 299 

ously compared to the Moon, the Dil Sagar Lake, 
a spotted quail, a gazelle, the Sun on the Desert 
of Kutch, the Dawn, the Stars, and the young 
bamboo. These comparisons imply that she is 
beautiful exceedingly according to the native 
standards, which are practically the same as those 
of the West. Her eyes are black and her hair is 
black, and her eyebrows are black as leeches; 
her mouth is tiny and says witty things; her 
hands are tiny and have saved much money; her 
feet are tiny and have trodden on the naked 
hearts of many men. But, as Wali Dad sings: 
"Lalun is Lalun, and when you have said that, 
you have only come to the Beginnings of Knowl- 

The little house on the City wall was just big 
enough to hold Lalun, and her maid, and a 
pussy-cat with a silver collar. A big pink and 
blue cut-glass chandelier hung from the ceiling 
of the reception room. A petty Nawab had 
given Lalun the horror, and she kept it for polite- 
ness' sake. The floor of the room was of pol- 
ished chunam, white as curds. A latticed win- 
dow of carved wood was set in one wall; there 
was a profusion of squabby pluffy cushions and 
fat carpets everywhere, and Lalun's silver hitqa, 
studded with turquoises, had a special little car- 
pet all to its shining self, Wali Dad was nearly 
as permanent a fixture as the chandelier. As I 

3CXD Indian Tales 

have said, he lay in the window-seat and medi- 
tated on Life and Death and Lalun — specially 
Lalun. The feet of the young men of the City 
tended to her doorways and then — retired, for 
Lalun was a particular maiden, slow of speech, 
reserved of mind, and not in the least inclined to 
orgies which were nearly certain to end in strife. 
"If I am of no value, 1 am unworthy of this 
honor," said Lalun. "If I am of value, they are 
unworthy of Me." And that was a crooked 

In the long hot nights of latter April and May 
all the City seemed to assemble in Lalun's little 
white room to smoke and to talk. Shiahs of the 
grimmest and most uncompromising persuasion; 
Sufis who had lost all belief in the Prophet and 
retained but little in God; wandering Hindu 
priests passing southward on their way to the 
Central India fairs and other affairs; Pundits in 
black gowns, with spectacles on their noses and 
undigested wisdom in their insides; bearded 
headmen of the wards; Sikhs with all the details 
of the latest ecclesiastical scandal in the Golden 
Temple; red-eyed priests from beyond the Bor- 
der, looking like trapped wolves and talking like 
ravens; M.A.'s of the University, very superior 
and very voluble — all these people and more also 
you might find in the white room. Wali Dad 
lay in the window-seat and listened to the talk. 

On the Ciiy Wall 301 

"It is Lalun's salon," said Wall Dad to me, 
"and it is electic — is not that the word ? Out- 
side of a Freemason's Lodge I have never seen 
such gatherings. There I dined once with a Jew 
— a Yahoudi! " He spat into the City Ditch with 
apologies for allowing national feelings to over- 
come him. "Though I have lost every belief in 
the world," said he, " and try to be proud of my 
losing, I cannot help hating a Jew. Lalun admits 
no Jews here." 

" But what in the world do all these men do .?" 
I asked. 

"The curse of our country," said Wali Dad. 
" They talk. It is like the Athenians — always 
hearing and telling some new thing. Ask the 
Pearl and she will show you how much she 
knows of the news of the City and the Province. 
Lalun knows everything." 

" Lalun," I said at random — she was talking to 
a gentleman of the Kurd persuasion who had 
come in from God-knows-where — " when does 
the 175th Regiment go to Agra }" 

"It does not go at all," said Lalun, without 
turning her head. "They have ordered the i i8th 
to go in its stead. That Regiment goes to Luck- 
now in three months, unless they give a fresh 

"That is so," said Wali Dad without a shade 
of doubt. "Can you, with your telegrams and 

302 Indian Tales 

your newspapers, do better ? Always hearing 
and telling some new thing," he went on. " My 
friend, has your God ever smitten a European 
nation for gossiping in the bazars ? India has 
gossiped for centuries — always standing in the 
bazars until the soldiers go by. Therefore — you 
are here to-day instead of starving in your own 
country, and 1 am not a Muhammadan — I am a 
Product — a Demnition Product. That also I owe 
to you and yours: that i cannot make an end to 
my sentence without quoting from your authors." 
He pulled at the hiiqa and mourned, half feel- 
ingly, half in earnest, for the shattered hopes of 
his youth. Wali Dad was always mourning over 
something or other — the country of which he 
despaired, or the creed in which he had lost faith, 
or the life of the English which he could by no 
means understand. 

Lalun never mourned. She played little songs 
on the sHar, and to hear her sing, " O Peacock, 
cry again,'' was always a fresh pleasure. She 
knew all the songs that have ever been sung, 
from the war-songs of the South that make the 
old men angry with the young men and the 
young men angry with the State, to the love- 
songs of the North where the swords whinny- 
whicker like angry kites in the pauses between 
the kisses, and the Passes fill with armed men, 
and the Lover is torn from his Beloved and cries, 

On the City Wall ^03 

Ai, Ai, All evermore. She knew how to make 
up tobacco for the J/nga so that it smelled like the 
Gates of Paradise and wafted you gently through 
them. She could embroider strange things in 
gold and silver, and dance softly with the moon- 
light when it came in at the window. Also she 
knew the hearts of men, and the heart of the 
City, and whose wives were faithful and whose 
untrue, and more of the secrets of the Govern- 
ment Offices than are good to be set down in 
this place. Nasiban, her maid, said that her 
jewelry was worth ten thousand pounds, and 
that, some night, a thief would enter and murder 
her for its possession ; but Lalun said that all the 
City would tear that thief limb from limb, and 
that he, whoever he was, knew it. 

So she took her sifar and sat in the window- 
seat and sang a song of old days that had been 
sung by a girl of her profession in an armed camp 
on the eve of a great battle — the day before the 
Fords of the Jumna ran red and Sivaji fled fifty 
miles to Delhi with a Toorkh stallion at hii" 
horse's tail and another Lalun on his saddle-bo\^'. 
It was what men call a Mahratta laonee, and It 

Their warrior forces Chimnajee 

Before the Peishwa led, 
The Children of the Sun and Fire 

Behind him turned and fled. 

304 tndian Tales 

And the chorus said: 

With them there fought who rides so free 

With sword and turban red, 
The warrior-youth who earns his fee 

At peril of his head. 

"At peril of his head," said Wali Dad in Eng- 
lish to me. "Thanks to your Government, all 
our heads are protected, and with the educational 
facilities at my command " — his eyes twinkled 
wickedly — "1 might be a distinguished member 
of the local administration. Perhaps, in time, I 
might even be a member of a Legislative Coun- 

"Don't speak English," said Lalun, bending 
over her sitar afresh. The chorus went out from 
the City wall to the blackened wall of Fort 
Amara which dominates the City. No man 
knows the precise extent of Fort Amara. Three 
kings built it hundreds of years ago, and they 
say that there are miles of underground rooms 
beneath its walls. It is peopled with many 
ghosts, a detachment of Garrison Artillery and a 
Company of Infantry. In its prime it held ten 
thousand men and filled its ditches with corpses. 

"At peril of his head," sang Lalun, again and 

A head moved on one of the Ramparts — the 
grey head of an old man — and a voice, rough as 

On the City Wall 305 

shark-skin on a sword-hilt, sent back the last line 
of the chorus and broke into a song that I could 
not understand, though Lalun and Wali Dad 
listened intently. 

"What is it?" I asked. " Who is it .^" 

"A consistent man," said Wali Dad. "He 
fought you in '46, when he was a warrior- 
youth; refought you in '57, and he tried to fight 
you in '71, but you had learned the trick of blow- 
ing men from guns too well. Now he is old; 
but he would still fight if he could." 

" Is he a Wahabi, then ? Why should he an- 
swer to a Mahratta laoiiee if he be Wahabi — or 
Sikh.?" said I. 

"1 do not know," said W^ali Dad. " He has 
lost perhaps, his religion. Perhaps he wishes to 
be a King. Perhaps he is a King. I do not 
know his name." 

"That is a lie, Wali Dad. If you know his 
career you must know his name." 

"That is quite true. I belong to a nation of 
liars. I would rather not tell you his name. 
Think for yourself." 

Lalun finished her song, pointed to the Fort, 
and said simply: "Khem Singh." 

" Hm," said Wali Dad. " If the Pearl chooses 
to tell you the Pearl is a fool." 

I translated to Lalun, who laughed. " I choose 
to tell what I choose to tell. They kept Khem 

3o6 Indian Tales 

Singh in Burma," said she. "They kept him 
there for many years until his mind was changed 
in him. So great was the kindness of the Gov- 
ernment. Finding this, they sent him back to 
his own country that he might look upon it be- 
fore he died. He is an old man, but when he 
looks upon this his country his memory will 
come. Moreover, there be many who remember 

"He is an Interesting Survival," said Wall 
Dad, pulling at the Iniqa. " He returns to a 
country now full of educational and political re- 
form, but, as the Pearl says, there are many who 
remember him. He was once a great man. 
There will never be any more great men in India. 
They will all, when they are boys, go whoring 
after strange gods, and they will become citizens 
— ' fellow-citizens ' — ' illustrious fellow-citizens.' 
What is it that the native papers call them ? " 

Wall Dad seemed to be in a very bad temper. 
Lalun looked out of the window and smiled into 
tne dust-haze. 1 went away thinking about 
Khem Singh who had once made history with ? 
thousand followers, and would have been a 
princeling but for the power of the Supreme 
Government aforesaid. 

The Senior Captain Commanding Fort Amara 
was away on leave, but the Subaltern, his Deputy, 
had drifted down to the Club, where I found 

On the City Wall 307 

him and inquired of him whether it was really 
true that a political prisoner had been added to 
the attractions of the Fort. The Subaltern ex- 
plained at great length, for this was the first 
time that he had held Command of the Fort, and 
his glory lay heavy upon him. 

"Yes," said he, "a man was sent in to me 
about a week ago from down the line — a thorough 
gentleman whoever he is. Of course I did all I 
could for him. He had his two servants and 
some silver cooking-pots, and he looked for all 
the world like a native officer. 1 called him 
Subadar Sahib; just as well to be on the safe side, 
y'know. 'Look here, Subadar Sahib,' I said, 
'you're handed over to my authority, and I'm 
supposed to guard you. Now I don't want to 
make your life hard, but you must make things 
easy for me. All the Fort is at your disposal, 
from the flagstaff to the dry ditch, and I shall be 
happy to entertain you in any way 1 can, but you 
mustn't take advantage of it. Give me your 
word that you won't try to escape, Subadar 
Sahib, and I'll give you my word that you shall 
have no heavy guard put over you.' I thought 
the best way of getting him was by going at 
him straight, y'know, and it was, by Jove! The 
old man gave me his word, and moved about the 
Fort as contented as a sick crow. He's a rummy 
chap — always asking to be told where he is and 

3o8 Indian Tales 

what the buildings about him are. I had to sign 
a shp of blue paper when he turned up, acknowl- 
edging receipt of his body and all that, and I'm 
responsible, y'know, that he doesn't get away. 
Queer thing, though, looking after a Johnnie old 
enough to be your grandfather, isn't it ? Come 
to the Fort one of these days and see him ?" 

For reasons which will appear, 1 never went to 
the Fort while Khem Singh was then within its 
walls. I knew him only as a grey head seen 
from Lalun's window — a grey head and a harsh 
voice. But natives told me that, day by day, as 
he looked upon the fair lands round Amara, his 
memory came back to him and, with it, the old 
hatred against the Government that had been 
nearly effaced in far-off Burma. So he raged up 
and down the West face of the Fort from morn- 
ing till noon and from evening till the night, de- 
vising vain things in his heart, and croaking war- 
songs when Lalun sang on the City wall. As 
he grew more acquainted with the Subaltern he 
unburdened his old heart of some of the passions 
that had withered it. "Sahib," he used to say, 
tapping his stick against the parapet, " when I 
was a young man I was one of twenty thousand 
horsemen who came out of the City and rode 
round the plain here. Sahib, I was the leader of 
a hundred, then of a thousand, then of five thou- 
sand, and now!" — he pointed to his two serv- 

On the City Wall 309 

ants. "But from the beginning to to-day I 
would cut the throats of all the Sahibs in the land 
if I could. Hold me fast, Sahib, lest I get away 
and return to those who would follow me. I 
forgot them when I was in Burma, but now that 
1 am in my own country again, 1 remember 

"Do you remember that you have given me 
your Honor not to make your tendance a hard 
matter }" said the Subaltern. 

"Yes, to you, only to you. Sahib," said Khem 
Singh. "To you, because you are of a pleasant 
countenance, if my turn comes again, Sahib, I 
will not hang you nor cut your throat." 

"Thank you," said the Subaltern, gravely, as 
he looked along the line of guns that could pound 
the City to powder in half an hour. " Let us go 
into our own quarters, Khem Singh. Come and 
talk with me after dinner." 

Khem Singh would sit on his own cushion 
at the Subaltern's feet, drinking heavy, scented 
anise-seed brandy in great gulps, and telling 
strange stories of Fort Amara, which had been 
a palace in the old days, of Begums and Ranees 
tortured to death — aye, in the very vaulted cham- 
ber that now served as a Mess-room; would tell 
stories of Sobraon that made the Subaltern's 
cheeks flush and tingle with pride of race, and 
of the Kuka rising from which so much was ex' 

310 Indian Tales 

pected and the foreknowledge of which was 
shared by a hundred thousand souls. But he 
never told tales of '57 because, as he said, he was 
the Subaltern's guest, and '57 is a year that no 
man, Black or White, cares to speak of. Once 
only, when the anise-seed brandy had slightly 
affected his head, he said: "Sahib, speaking 
now of a matter which lay between Sobraon and 
the affair of the Kukas, it was ever a wonder to 
us that you stayed your hand at all, and that, 
having stayed it, you did not make the land one 
prison. Now I hear from without that you do 
great honor to all men of our country and by 
your own hands are destroying the Terror of 
your Name which is your strong rock and de- 
fence. This is a foolish thing. Will oil and 
water mix ? Now in '57 " — 

" I was not born then, Subadar Sahib," said 
the Subaltern, and Khem Singh reeled to his 

The Subaltern would tell me of these conver- 
sations at the Club, and my desire to see Khem 
Singh increased. But Wali Dad, sitting in the 
window-seat of the house on the City wall, said 
that it would be a cruel thing to do, and Lalun 
pretended that 1 preferred the society of a grizzled 
old Sikh to hers. 

"Here is tobacco, here is talk, here are many 
friends and all the news of the City, and, above 

On the City Wall 311 

all, here is myself. I will tell you stories and 
sing you songs, and Wali Dad will talk his Eng- 
lish nonsense in your ears. Is that worse than 
watching the caged animal yonder ? Go to-mor- 
row then, if you must, but to-day such and such 
an one will be here, and he will speak of won- 
derful things." 

It happened that To-morrow never came, and 
the warm heat of the latter Rains gave place to 
the chill of early October almost before I was 
aware of the flight of the year. The Captain 
commanding the Fort returned from leave and 
took over charge of Khem Singh according to the 
laws of seniority. The Captain was not a nice 
man. He called all natives "niggers," which, 
besides being extreme bad form, shows gross 

" "What's the use of telling off two Tommies 
to watch that old nigger?" said he. 

" I fancy it soothes his vanity," said the Subal- 
tern. " The men are ordered to keep well out of 
his way, but he takes them as a tribute to his im- 
portance, poor old wretch." 

"I won't have Line men taken off regular 
guards in this way. Put on a couple of Native 

" Sikhs .^" said the Subaltern, lifting his eye- 

"Sikhs, Pathans, Dogras — they're all alike. 

3 1 2 Indian Ta les 

these black vermin," and the Captain talked to 
Khem Singh in a manner which hurt that old 
gentleman's feelings. Fifteen years before, 
when he had been caught for the second time, 
every one looked upon him as a sort of tiger. 
He liked being regarded in this light. But he 
forgot that the world goes forward in fifteen 
years, and many Subalterns are promoted to Cap- 

The Captain-pig is in charge of the Fort } " 
said Khem Singh to his native guard every morn- 
ing. And the native guard said: "Yes, Subadar 
Sahib," in deference to his age and his air of 
distinction; but they did not know who he was. 

In those days the gathering in Lalun's little 
white room was always large and "talked more 
than before. 

"The Greeks," said Wali Dad who had been 
borrowing my books, "the inhabitants of the 
city of Athens, where they were always hearing 
and telling some new thing, rigorously secluded 
their women — v/ho were fools. Hence the 
glorious institution of the heterodox women — is 
it not ? — who were amusing and not fools. All 
the Greek philosophers delighted in their com- 
pany. Tell me, my friend, how it goes now in 
Greece and the other places upon the Continent 
of Europe. 'Are your women-folk also fools .?" 

"Wali Dad," 1 said, "you never speak to us 

On the City Wall 313 

about your women-folk and we never speak 
about ours to you. That is the bar between us." 

"Yes," said Wali Dad, "it is curious to think 
that our common meeting-place should be here, in 
the house of a common — how do you call her}'' 
He pointed with the pipe-mouth to Lalun. 

" Lalun is nothing but Lalun," I said, and that 
was perfectly true. " But if you took your place 
in the world, Wali Dad, and gave up dreaming 
dreams " — 

" I might wear an English coat and trouser. I 
might be a leading Muhammadan pleader. I 
might be received even at the Commissioner's 
tennis-parties where the English stand on one 
side and the natives on the other, in order to 
promote social intercourse throughout the Em- 
pire. Heart's Heart," said he to Lalun quickly, 
"the Sahib says that I ought to quit you." 

"The Sahib is always talking stupid talk," re- 
turned Lalun, with a laugh. " In this house I am 
a Queen and thou art a King. The Sahib" — she 
put her arms above her head and thought for a 
moment — " the Sahib shall be our Vizier — thine 
and mine, Wali Dad — because he has said that 
thou shouldst leave me." 

Wali Dad laughed immoderately, and I laughed 
too. " Be it so," said he. "My friend, are you 
willing to take this lucrative Government ap- 
pointment } Lalun, what shall his pay be ? " 

314 Indian Tales 

But Lalun began to sing, and for the rest of 
the time there was no hope of getting a sensible 
answer from her or Wali Dad. When the one 
stopped, the other began to quote Persian poetry 
with a triple pun in every other line. Some of it 
was not strictly proper, but it was all very funny, 
and it only came to an end when a fat person in 
black, with gold pince-nei, sent up his name to 
Lalun, and Wali Dad dragged me into the twink- 
ling night to walk in a big rose-garden and talk 
heresies about Religion and Governments and a 
man's career in life. 

The Mohurrum, the great mourning-festival of 
the Muhammadans, was close at hand, and the 
things that Wali Dad said about religious fanati- 
cism would have secured his expulsion from the 
loosest-thinking Muslim sect. There were the 
rose-bushes round us, the stars above us, and 
from every quarter of the City came the boom of 
the big Mohurrum. drums. You must know that 
the City is divided in fairly equal proportions 
between the Hindus and the Musalmans, and 
where both creeds belong to the fighting races, a 
big religious festival gives ample chance for 
trouble. When they can — that is to say when 
the authorities are weak enough to allow it — the 
Hindus do their best to arrange some minor 
feast-day of their own in time to clash with the 
period of general mourning for the martyrs 

On the City Wall 315 

Hasan and Hussain, the heroes of the Mohurrum. 
Gilt and painted paper presentations of their 
tombs are borne with shouting and waiHng, 
music, torches, and yells, through the principal 
thoroughfares of the City, which fakements are 
called taiias. Their passage is rigorously laid 
down beforehand by the Police, and detachments 
of Police accompany each ta:{ia, lest the Hindus 
should throw bricks at it and the peace of the 
Queen and the heads of Her loyal subjects should 
thereby be broken. Mohurrum time in a " fight- 
ing" town means anxiety to all the officials, 
because, if a riot breaks out, the officials and not 
the rioters are held responsible. The former 
must foresee everything, and while not making 
their precautions ridiculously elaborate, must see 
that they are at least adequate. 

" Listen to the drums! " said Wall Dad. "That 
is the heart of the people — empty and making 
much noise. How, think you, will the Mohur- 
rum go this year? / think that there will be 

He turned down a side-street and left me alone 
with the stars and a sleepy Police patrol. Then 
I went to bed and dreamed that Wali Dad had 
sacked the City and I was made Vizier, with 
Lalun's silver huqa for mark of office. 

All day the Mohurrum drums beat in the City, 
and all day deputations of tearful Hindu gentle- 

3i6 Indian Tales 

men besieged the Deputy Commissioner with as- 
surances that they would be murdered ere next 
dawning by the Muhammadans. " Which," said 
the Deputy Commissioner, in confidence to the 
Head of PoHce, "is a pretty fair indication that 
the Hindus are going to make 'emselves unpleas- 
ant. I think we can arrange a little surprise for 
them. I have given the heads of both Creeds 
fair warning. If they choose to disregard it, so 
much the worse for them." 

There was a large gathering in Lalun's house 
that night, but of men that I had never seen be- 
fore, if I except the fat gentleman in black with 
the gold pince-iiei. Wall Dad lay in the win- 
dow-seat, more bitterly scornful cf his Faith 
and its manifestations than I had ever known 
him. Lalun's maid was very busy cutting up 
and mixing tobacco for the guests. We could 
hear the thunder of the drums as the processions 
accompanying each ta:{ja marched to the central 
gathering-place in the plain outside the City, 
preparatory to their triumphant reentry and cir- 
cuit within the walls. All the streets seemed 
ablaze with torches, and only Fort Amara was 
black and silent. 

When the noise of the drums ceased, no one 
in the white room spoke for a time. " The first 
ta^ia has moved off," said Wall Dad, looking to 
the plain. 

On the City Wall ■^ij 

"That is very early," said the man with the 

" It is only half-past eight." The company 
rose and departed. 

" Some of them were men from Ladakh," said 
Lalun, when the last had gone. " They brought 
me brick-tea such as the Russians sell, and a tea- 
urn from Peshawur. Show me, now, how the 
English Menisahibs make tea." 

The brick-tea was abominable. When it was 
finished Wall Dad suggested going into the 
streets. "I am nearly sure that there will be 
trouble to-night," he said. " All the City thinks 
so, and yox Popiili is Vox Dei, as the Babus say. 
Now I tell you that at the corner of the Padshahi 
Gate you will fmd my horse all this night if you 
want to go about and to see things. It is a most 
disgraceful exhibition. Where is the pleasure of 
saying ' Ya Hasan, Ya Hussain,' twenty thousand 
times in a night ?" 

All the processions — there were two and tv/enty 
of them — were now well within the City walls. 
The drums were beating afresh, the crowd were 
howling "Kz Hasan/ Ya Hitssainf" and beat- 
ing their breasts, the brass bands were playing 
their loudest, and at every corner where space 
allowed, Muhammadan preachers were telling the 
lamentable story of the death of the Martyrs. It 
was impossible to move except with the crowd, 

3i8 Indian Tales 

for the streets were not more than twenty feet 
wide. In the Hindu quarters the shutters of all 
the shops were up and cross-barred. As the first 
ta{ta, a gorgeous erection ten feet high, was 
borne aloft on the shoulders of a score of stout 
men into the semi-darkness of the Gully of the 
Horsemen, a brickbat crashed through its talc and 
tinsel sides. 

"Into thy hands, O Lord?" murmured Wall 
Dad, profanely, as a yell went up from behind, 
and a native officer of Police jammed his horse 
ihrough the crowd. Another brickbat followed, 
and the ta:ita staggered and swayed where it had 

"Go on! In the name of the Sirkar, go for- 
ward!" shouted the Policeman; but there was an 
ugly cracking and splintering of shutters, and the 
crowd halted, with oaths and growlings, before 
the house whence the brickbat had been thrown. 

Then, without any warning, broke the storm 
— not only in the Gully of the Horsemen, but in 
half a dozen other places. The ta:{ias rocked 
like ships at sea, the long pole-torches dipped 
and rose round them while the men shouted: 
"The Hindus are dishonoring the tafias! Strike! 
Strike! Into their temples for the faith!" The 
six or eight Policemen with each ta:{ia drew their 
batons, and struck as long as they could in the 
hope of forcing the mob forward, but they were 

On the City Wall 319 

overpowered, and as contingents of Hindus 
poured into the streets, the fight became general. 
Half a mile away where the tafias were yet un- 
touched the drums and the shrieks oi "Ya Hasan! 
Ya Htissain!" continued, but not for long. The 
priests at the corners of the streets knocked the 
legs from the bedsteads that supported their pul- 
pits and smote for the Faith, while stones fell 
from the silent houses upon friend and foe, and 
the packed streets bellowed: ''Dili! Din! Din!" 
A ta:{_ia caught tire, and was dropped for a flam- 
ing barrier between Hindu and Musalman at the 
corner of the Gully. Then the crowd surged 
forward, and Wall Dad drew me close to the 
stone pillar of a well. 

"It was intended from the beginning!" he 
shouted in my ear, with more heat than blank 
unbelief should be guilty of. " The bricks were 
carried up to the houses beforehand. These 
swine of Hindus! We shall be gutting kine in 
their temples to-night! " 

Ta^ia after ta^ia, some burning, others torn 
to pieces, hurried past us and the mob with 
them, howling, shrieking, and striking at the 
house doors in their flight. At last we saw the 
reason of the rush. Hugonin, the Assistant Dis- 
trict Superintendent of Police, a boy of twenty, 
had got together thirty constables and was forc- 
ing the crowd through the streets. His old grey 

320 Indian Tales 

Police-horse showed no sign of uneasiness as it 
was spurred breast-on into the crowd, and the 
long dog-whip with which he had armed him- 
self was never still. 

" They know we haven't enough Police to hold 
'em," he cried as he passed me, mopping a cut on 
his face. " They know we haven't! Aren't any 
of the men from the Club coming down to help? 
Get on, you sons of burned fathers!" The dog- 
whip cracked across the writhing backs, and the 
constables smote afresh with baton and gun-butt. 
With these passed the lights and the shouting, 
and Wall Dad began to swear under his breath. 
From Fort Amara shot up a single rocket ; then 
two side by side. It was the signal for troops. 

Petitt, the Deputy Commissioner, covered with 
dust and sweat, but calm and gently smiling, 
cantered up the clean-swept street in rear of the 
main bodv of the rioters. "No one killed yet," 
he shouted. " I'll keep 'em on the run till dawn! 
Don't let 'em halt, Hugonin! Trot em about till 
the troops come." 

The science of the defence lay solely in keeping 
the mob on the move. If they had breathing- 
space they would halt and fire a house, and then 
the work of restoring order would be more diffi- 
cult, to say the least of it. Flames have the same 
effect on a crowd as blood has on a wild beast. 

Word had reached the Club and men in even- 

On the City [Vail 321 

ing-dress were beginning to show themselves 
and lend a hand in heading off and breaking up 
the shouting masses with stirrup-leathers, whips, 
or chance-found staves. They were not very 
often attacked, for the rioters had sense enough 
to know that the death of a European would not 
mean one hanging but many, and possibly the 
appearance of the thrice-dreaded Artillery. The 
clamor in the City redoubled. The Hindus had 
descended into the streets in real earnest and ere 
long the mob returned. It was a strange sight. 
There were no tafias — only their riven platforms 
—and there were no Police. Here and there a 
City dignitary, Hindu or Muhammadan, was 
vainly imploring his co-religionists to keep quiet 
and behave themselves — advice for which his 
white beard was pulled. Then a native officer of 
Police, unhorsed but still using his spurs with 
effect, would be borne along, warning all the 
crowd of the danger of insulting the Govern- 
ment. Everywhere men struck aimlessly with 
sticks, grasping each other by the throat, howl- 
ing and foaming with rage, or beat v/ith their 
bare hands on the doors of the ho'.ises. 

"■ It is a lucky thing that they are fighting with 
natural weapons," 1 said to Wall Dad, "else we 
should have half the City killed." 

I turned as I spoke and looked at his face. His 
nostrils were distended, his eyes were fixed, and 

322 Indian Tales 

he was smiting himself softly on the breast. 
The crowd poured by with renewed riot— a gang 
of Musalmans hard-pressed by some hundred 
Hindu fanatics. Wali Dad left my side with an 
oath, and shouting: '' Ya Hasan! Ya Hus- 
sain ! " plunged into the thick of the fight where 
1 lost sight of him. 

1 fled by a side alley to the Padshahi Gate 
where I found Wali Dad's house, and thence rode 
to the Fort. Once outside the City wall, the tu- 
mult sank to a dull roar, very impressive under 
the stars and reflecting great credit on the fifty 
thousand angry able-bodied men who were mak- 
ing it. The troops who, at the Deputy Commis- 
sioner's instance, had been ordered to rendezvous 
quietly near the Fort, showed no signs of being 
impressed. Two companies of Native Infantry, 
a squadron of Native Cavalry and a company of 
British Infantry were kicking their heels in the 
shadow of the East face, waiting for orders to 
march in. I am sorry to say that they were all 
pleased, unholily pleased, at the chance of what 
they called "a little fun." The senior officers, to 
be sure, grumbled at having been kept out of 
bed, and the English troops pretended to be 
sulky, but there was joy in the hearts of all the 
subalterns, and whispers ran up and down the 
line : "No ball-cartridge — what a beastly shame ! " 
"D'you think the beggars will really stand up to 

On the City Wall 323 

us?" "'Hope I shall meet my money-Iendet 
there. I owe him more than I can afford." 
"Oh, they won't let us even unsheathe swords." 
"Hurrah! Up goes the fourth rocket. Fall in, 
there! " 

The Garrison Artillery, who to the last cher- 
ished a wild hope that they might be allowed to 
bombard the City at a hundred yards' range, 
lined the parapet above the East gateway and 
cheered themselves hoarse as the British Infantry 
doubled along the road to the Main Gate of the 
City. The Cavalry cantered on to the Padshahi 
Gate, and the Native Infantry marched slowly to 
the Gate of the Butchers. The surprise was in- 
tended to be of a distinctly unpleasant nature, 
and to come on top of the defeat of the Police 
who had been just able to keep the Muham- 
madans from firing the houses of a few leading 
Hindus. The bulk of the riot lay in the north 
and northwest wards. The east and southeast 
were by this time dark and silent, and 1 rode 
hastily to Lalun's house for I wished to tell her to 
send some one in search of Wall Dad. The 
house was unlighted, but the door was open, 
and 1 climbed upstairs in the darkness. One 
small lamp in the white room showed Lalun and 
her maid leaning half out of the window, breath- 
ing heavily and evidently pulling at something 
that refused to come. 

324 Indian Tales 

"Thou art late — very late," gasped Lalun, with- 
out turning her head. "Help us now, O Fool, 
if thou hast not spent thy strength howling 
among the taiias. Pull! Nasiban and I can do 
no more! O Sahib, is it you ? The Hindus have 
been hunting an old Muhammadan round the 
Ditch with clubs. If they tind him again they 
will kill him. Help us to pull him up." 

I put my hands to the long red silk waist-cloth 
that was hanging out of the window, and we 
three pulled and pulled with all the strength at 
our command. There was something very 
heavy at the end, and it swore in an unknown 
tongue as it kicked against the City v/all. 

"Pull, oh, pull!" said Lalun, at the last. A 
pair of brown hands grasped the window-sill 
and a venerable Muhammadan tumbled upon the 
floor, very much out of breath. His jaws were 
tied up, his turban had fallen over one eye, and 
he was dusty and angry. 

Lalun hid her face in her hands for an instant 
and said something about Wall Dad that 1 could 
not catch. 

Then, to my extreme gratification, she threw 
her arms round my neck and murmured pretty 
things. I was in no haste to stop her; and 
Nasiban, being a handmaiden of tact, turned to 
the big jewel-chest that stands in the corner of 
the white room and rummaged among the con- 

On the City Wall 325 

tents. The Muhammadan sat on the floor and 

"One service more, Sahib, since thou hast 
come so opportunely," said Lalun. "Wilt thou"' 
' — it is very nice to be thou-ed by Lalun — " take 
this old man across the City — the troops are 
everywhere, and they might hurt him for he is 
old — to the Kumharsen Gate.^ There I think he 
may find a carriage to take him to his house. He 
is a friend of mine, and thou art — more than a 
friend — therefore 1 ask this." 

Nasiban bent over the old man, tucked some- 
thing into his belt, and 1 raised him up, and led 
him into the streets. In crossing from the east to 
the west of the City there was no chance of 
avoiding the troops and the crowd. Long before 
I reached the Gully of the Horsemen I heard the 
shouts of the British infantry crying cheeringly: 
" Hutt, ye beggars! Hutt, ye devils! Getalong! 
Go forward, there! " Then followed the ringing 
of rifle-butts and shrieks of pain. The troops 
were banging the bare toes of the mob with 
their gun-butts — for not a bayonet had been 
fixed. My companion mumbled and jabbered as 
we walked on until we were carried back by the 
crowd and had to force our way to the troops. I 
caught him by the wrist and felt a bangle there 
— the iron bangle of the Sikhs — but I had no 
suspicions, for Lalun had only ten minutes before 

326 Indian Tales 

put her arms round me. Thrice we were carried 
back by the crowd, and when we made our way 
past the British Infantry it was to meet the Sikh 
Cavalry driving another mob before them with 
the butts of their lances. 

"What are these dogs?" said the old man, 

"Sikhs of the Cavalry, Father," 1 said, and we 
edged our way up the line of horses two abreast 
and found the Deputy Commissioner, his helmet 
smashed on his head, surrounded by a knot of 
men who had come down from the Club as 
amateur constables and had helped the Police 

"We'll keep 'em on the run till dawn," said 
Petitt. " Who's your villainous friend } " 

I had only time to say: "The Protection of 
the Strharf" when a fresh crowd flying before 
the Native Infantry carried us a hundred yards 
nearer to the Kumharsen Gate, and Petitt was 
swept away like a shadow. 

"I do not know — I cannot see — this is all new 
to me! " moaned my companion. "How many 
troops are there in the City ?" 

"Perhaps five hundred," I said. 

"A lakh of men beaten by five hundred — and 
Sikhs among them! Surely, surely, I am an old 
man, but — the Kumharsen Gate is new. Who 
pulled down the stone lions ? Where is the 
conduit ? Sahib, 1 am a very old man, and, alas. 

On the City Wall 327 

I — I cannot stand." He dropped in the shadow 
of the Kumharsen Gate where there was no dis- 
turbance. A fat gentleman wearing gold pince- 
nei came out of the darkness. 

"You are most kind to bring my old friend," 
he said, suavely. " He is a landholder of Akala. 
He should not be in a big City when there is 
religious excitement. But I have a carriage 
here. You are quite truly kind. Will you help 
me to put him into the carriage ? It is very 

We bundled the old man into a hired victoria 
that stood close to the gate, and I turned back to 
the house on the City wall. The troops were 
driving the people to and fro, while the Police 
shouted, ' ' To your houses ! Get to your houses ! " 
and the dog-whip of the Assistant District Super- 
intendent cracked remorselessly. Terror-stricken 
bunnias clung to the stirrups of the cavalry, cry- 
ing that their houses had been robbed (which 
was a lie), and the burly Sikh horsemen patted 
them on the shoulder, and bade them return to 
those houses lest a worse thing should happen. 
Parties of five or six British soldiers, joining 
arms, swept down the side-gullies, their rifles on 
their backs, stamping, with shouting and song, 
upon the toes of Hindu and Musalman. Never 
was religious enthusiasm more systematically 
squashed; and never were poor breakers of the 

328 Indian Tales 

peace more utterly weary and footsore. They 
were routed out of holes and corners, from be- 
hind well-pillars and byres, and bidden to go to 
their houses. If they had no houses to go to, so 
much the worse for their toes. 

On returning to Lalun's door I stumbled over a 
man at the threshold. He was sobbing hysteric- 
ally and his arms flapped like the wings of a 
goose. It was Wall Dad, Agnostic and Unbe- 
liever, shoeless, turbanless, and frothing at the 
mouth, the flesh on his chest bruised and bleed- 
ing from the vehemence with which he had 
smitten himself. A broken torch-handle lay by 
his side, and his quivering lips murmured, " Ya 
Hasan ! Ya Hussain ! " as 1 stooped over him. 
I pushed him a few steps up the staircase, threw 
a pebble at Lalun's City window and hurried 

Most of the streets were very still, and the cold 
wind that comes before the dawn whistled down 
them. In the centre of the Square of the Mosque 
a man was bending over a corpse. The skull 
had been smashed in by gun-butt or bamboo- 

"It is expedient that one man should die for 
the people," said Petitt, grimly, raising the shape- 
less head. "These brutes were beginning to 
show their teeth too much." 

And from afar we could hear the soldiers sing- 

On the City Wall ^29 

ing "Two Lovely Black Eyes," as they drove the 
remnant of the rioters within doors. 

Of course you can guess what happened ? I 
was not so clever. When the news went abroad 
that Khem Singh had escaped from the Fort, I 
did not, since I was then living this story, not 
writing it, connect myself, or Lalun, or the fat 
gentleman of the gold pince-ne:(^, with his disap- 
pearance. Nor did it strike me that Wall Dad 
was the man who should have convoyed him 
across the City, or that Lalun's arms round my 
neck were put there to hide the money that 
Nasiban gave to Kehm Singh, and that Lalun had 
used me and my white face as even a better safe- 
guard than Wall Dad who proved himself so un- 
trustworthy. All that I knew at the time was 
that, when Fort Amara was taken up with the 
riots, Khem Singh profited by the confusion to 
get away, and that his two Sikh guards also 

But later on I received full enlightenment; and 
so did Khem Singh. He fled to those who knew 
him in the old days, but many of them were dead 
and more were changed, and all knew something 
of the Wrath of the Government. He went to 
the young men, but the glamour of his name had 
passed away, and they were entering native regi- 

330 Indian '/ales 

ments of Government offices, and Khem Singh 
could give them neither pension, decorations, 
nor influence — nothing but a glorious death with 
their backs to the mouth of a gun. He wrote 
letters and made promises, and the letters fell 
into bad hands, and a wholly insignificant sub- 
ordinate officer of Police tracked them down and 
gained promotion thereby. Moreover, Khem 
Singh was old, and anise-seed brandy was 
scarce, and he had left his silver cooking-pots in 
Fort Amara with his nice warm bedding, and the 
gentleman with the gold pince-nei was told by 
those who had employed him that Khem Singh 
as a popular leader was not worth the money 

"Great is the mercy of these fools of Eng- 
lish!" said Khem Singh when the situation v/as 
put before him. " I will go back to Fort Amara 
of my own free will and gain honor. Give me 
good clothes to return in." 

So, at his own time, Khem Singh knocked at 
the wicket-gate of the Fort and walked to the 
Captain and the Subaltern, who were nearly 
grey-headed on account of correspondence that 
daily arrived from Simla marked " Private." 

" 1 have come back. Captain Sahib," said Khem 
Singh. " Put no more guards over me. It is no 
good out yonder." 

A week later 1 saw him for the first time to my 

On the City Wall 331 

knowledge, and he made as though there were 
an understanding between us. 

"It was well done, Sahib," said he, "and 
greatly I admired your astuteness in thus boldly 
facing the troops when 1, whom they would 
have doubtless torn to pieces, was with you. 
Now there is a man in Fort Ooltagarh whom a 
bold man could with ease help to escape. This 
is the position of the Fort as 1 draw it on the 
sand " — 

But I was thinking how I had become Lalun s 
Vizier after all. 


While the snaffle holds, or the long-neck stings, 
While the big beam tilts, or the last bell rings, 
While horses are horses to train and to race, 
Then women and wine take a second place 

For me — for me — 

While a short " ten-three " 
Has a field to squander or fence to face ! 

— Song of the G, R. 

THERE are more ways of running a norse lo 
suit your book than pulling his head off in 
the straight. Some men forget this. Under- 
stand clearly that all racing is rotten — as every- 
thing connected with losing money must be. In 
India, in addition to its inherent rottenness, it has 
the merit of being two-thirds sham; looking 
pretty on paper only. Every one knows every 
one else far too well for business purposes. 
How on earth can you rack and harry and post a 
man for his losings, when you are fond of his 
wife, and live in the same Station with him .^ 
He says, "On the Monday following," "I can't 
settle just yet." You say, " All right, old man," 
and think yourself lucky if you pull off nine hun- 
dred out of a two-thousand-rupee debt. Any 
way you look at it, Indian racing is immoral, and 

The Broken-Link Handicap 353 

expensively immoral. Which is much worse. 
If a man wants your money, he ought to ask for 
it, or send round a subscription-list, instead of 
juggling about the country, with an Australian 
larrikin; a " brumby," with as much breed as the 
boy; a brace of chiiiuars in gold-laced caps; 
three or four ekka-pomes with hogged manes, 
and a switch-tailed demirep of a mare called 
Arab because she has a kink in her flag. Racing 
leads to the shrojf quicker than anything else. 
But if you have no conscience and no sentiments, 
and good hands, and some knowledge of pace, 
and ten years' experience of horses, and several 
thousand rupees a month, I believe that you can 
occasionally contrive to pay your shoeing-bills. 

Did you ever know Shackles — b. w. g., 15. i^ 
— coarse, loose, mule-like ears — barrel as long as 
a gatepost — tough as a telegraph-wire — and the 
queerest brute that ever looked through a bridle .? 
He was of no brand, being one of an ear-nicked 
mob taken into the Bucephalus at ^"4:108., a 
head to make up freight, and sold raw and out of 
condition at Calcutta for Rs.275. People who 
lost money on him called him a " brumby"; but 
if ever any horse had Harpoon's shoulders and 
The Gin's temper. Shackles was that horse. 
Two miles was his own particular distance. He 
trained himself, ran himself, and rode himself; 
and, if his jockey insulted him by giving him 

334 Indian Tales 

hints, he shut up at once and bucked the boy off. 
He objected to dictation. Two or three of his 
owners did not understand this, and lost money 
in consequence. At last he was bought by a 
man who discovered that, if a race was to be 
won, Shackles, and Shackles only, would win it 
in his own way, so long as his jockey sat still. 
This man had a riding-boy called Brunt — a lad 
from Perth, West Australia — and he taught 
Brunt, with a trainer's whip, the hardest thing a 
jock can learn — to sit still, to sit still, and to keep 
on sitting still. When Brunt fairly grasped this 
truth. Shackles devastated the country. No 
weight could stop him at his own distance; and 
the fame of Shackles spread from Ajmir in the 
South, to Chedputter in the North. There was no 
horse like Shackles, so long as he was allowed 
to do his work in his own way. But he was 
beaten in the end; and the story of his fall is 
enough to make angels weep. 

At the lower end of the Chedputter race- 
course, just before the turn into the straight, the 
track passes close to a couple of old brick- 
mounds enclosing a funnel-shaped hollow. The 
big end of the funnel is not six feet from the 
railings on the ofT-side. The astounding pecul- 
iarity of the course is that, if you stand at one 
particular place, about half a mile away, inside 
the course, and speak at ordmary pitch, your 

The Broken-Link Handicap ^^^ 

voice just hits the funnel of the brick-mounds 
and makes a curious whining echo there. A 
man discovered this one morning by accident 
while out training with a friend. He marked 
the place to stand and speak from with a couple 
of bricks, and he kept his knowledge to himself. 
Every peculiarity of a course is worth remember- 
ing in a country where rats play the mischief 
with the elephant-litter, and Stewards build 
jumps to suit their own stables. This man ran a 
very fairish country-bred, a long, racking high 
mare with the temper of a fiend, and the paces 
of an airy wandering seraph — a drifty, glidy 
stretch. The mare was, as a delicate tribute to 
Mrs. Reiver, called "The Lady Regula Baddun" 
— or for short, Regula Baddun. 

Shackles' jockey. Brunt, was a quite well-be- 
haved boy, but his nerve had been shaken. He 
began his career by riding jump-races in Mel- 
bourne, where a few Stewards want lynching, 
and was one of the jockeys who came through 
the awful butchery — perhaps you will recollect 
it — of the Maribyrnong Plate. The walls were 
colonial ramparts — logs of jarrah spiked into 
masonry — with wings as strong as Church but- 
tresses. Once in his stride, a horse had to jump 
or fall. He couldn't run out. In the Maribyr- 
nong Plate, twelve horses were jammed at the 
second wall. Red Hat, leading, fell this side, 

336 Indian Tales 

and threw out The Gled, and the ruck came up 
behind and the space between wing and wing 
was one struggling, screaming, kicking shambles. 
Four jockeys were taken out dead; three were 
very badly hurt, and Brunt was among the three. 
He told the story of the Maribyrnong Plate 
sometimes; and when he described how Whalley 
on Red Hat, said, as the mare fell under him — 
"God ha' mercy, I'm done for!" and how, next 
instant, Sithee There and White Otter had 
crushed the life out of poor Whalley, and the 
dust hid a small hell of men and horses, no one 
marveled that Brunt had dropped jump-races 
and Australia together. Regula Baddun's owner 
knew that story by heart. Brunt never varied it 
in the telling. He had no education. 

Shackles came to the Chedputter Autumn races 
one year, and his owner walked about insulting 
the sportsmen of Chedputter generally, till they 
went to the Honorary Secretary in a body and 
said, "Appoint handicappers, and arrange a race 
which shall break Shackles and humble the 
pride of his owner." The Districts rose against 
Shackles and sent up of their best; Ousel, who 
was supposed to be able to do his mile in 1-S3; 
Petard, the stud-bred, trained by a cavalry regi- 
ment who knew how to train; Gringalet. the 
ewe-Iamb of the 7sth; Bobolink, the pride of 
Peshawar; and many others. 

The Broken-Link Handicap 337 

They called that race The Broken-Link Handi- 
cap, because it was to smash Shackles; and the 
Handicappers piled on the weights, and the Fund 
gave eight hundred rupees, and the distance was 
"round the course for all horses." Shackles' 
owner said, " You can arrange the race with re- 
gard to Shackles only. So long as you don't 
bury him under weight-cloths, I don't mind." 
Regula Baddun's owner said, "I throw in my 
mare to fret Ousel. Six furlongs is Regula's dis- 
tance, and she will then lie down and die. So 
also will Ousel, for his jockey doesn't under- 
stand a v/aiting race." Now, this was a lie, for 
Regula had been in work for two months at 
Dehra, and her chances were good, always sup- 
posing that Shackles broke a blood-vessel — or 
Brunt moved on him. 

The plunging in the lotteries was fine. They 
filled eight thousand-rupee lotteries on the 
Broken-Link Handicap, and the account in the 
Pioneer said that "favoritism was divided." !n 
plain English, the various contingents were wild 
on their respective horses; for the Handicappers 
had done their work well. The Honorary Secre- 
tary shouted himself hoarse through the din; and 
the smoke of the cheroots was like the smoke, 
and the rattling of the dice-boxes like the rattle 
of small-arm fire. 

Ten horses started — very level — and Regula 

338 Indian Tales 

Baddun's owner cantered out on his hack to a 
place inside the circle of the course, where two 
brfcks had been thrown. He faced toward the 
brick-mounds at the lower end of the course and 

The story of the running is in the Pioneer. At 
the end of the first mile, Shackles crept out of 
the ruck, well on the outside, ready to get round 
the turn, lay hold of the bit and spin up the 
straight before the others knew he had got 
away. Brunt was sitting still, perfectly happy, 
listening to the "drum-drum-drum" of the 
hoofs behind, and knowing that, in about 
twenty strides, Shackles would draw one deep 
breath and go up the last half-mile like the " Fly- 
ing Dutchman." As Shackles went short to take 
the turn and came abreast of the brick-mound. 
Brunt heard, above the noise of the wind in his 
ears, a whining, wailing voice on the offside, 
saying — "God ha' mercy, I'm done for!" In 
one stride, Brunt saw the whole seething smash 
of the Maribyrnong Plate before him, started in 
his saddle and gave a yell of terror. The start 
brought the heels into Shackles' side, and the 
scream hurt Shackles' feelings. He couldn't stop 
dead; but he put out his feet and slid along for 
fifty yards, and then, very gravely and judicially, 
bucked off Brunt — a shaking, terror-stricken 
lump, while Res^ula Baddun made a neck-and- 

The Broken-Link Handicap 339 

neck race with Bobolink up the straight, and 
won by a short head — Petard a bad third. 
Shackles' owner, in the Stand, tried to think 
that his field-glasses had gone wrong. Regula 
Baddun's owner, waiting by the two bricks, gave 
one deep sigh of relief, and cantered back to the 
Stand. He had won, in lotteries and bets, about 
fifteen thousand. 

It was a Broken-Link Handicap with a venge- 
ance. It broke nearly all the men concerned, 
and nearly broke the heart of Shackles* owner. 
He went down to interview Brunt. The boy 
lay, livid and gasping with fright, where he had 
tumbled off. The sin of losing the race never 
seemed to strike him. All he knew was that 
Whalley had "called" him, that the "call" was 
a warning; and, were he cut in two for it, he 
would never get up again. His nerve had gone 
altogether, and he only asked his master to give 
him a good thrashing, and let him go. He was 
fit for nothing, he said. He got his dismissal, and 
crept up to the paddock, white as chalk, with blue 
lips, his knees giving way under him. People 
said nasty things in the paddock; but Brunt never 
heeded. He changed into tweeds, took his stick 
and went down the road, still shaking with fright, 
and muttering over and over again — "God ha' 
mercy, I'm done for ! " To the best of my knowl- 
edge and belief he spoke the truth. 

340 Indian Tale% 

So now you know how the Broken-Link Hand- 
icap was run and won. Of course you don't be- 
lieve it. You would credit anything about Rus- 
sia's designs on India, or the recommendations 
of the Currency Commission; but a little bit of 
sober fact is more than you can stand. 


To Love's low voice she lent a careless ear; 

Her hand within his rosy fingers lay, 

A chilling weight. She would not turn or heai' ; 

But with averted face went on her way. 

But when pale Death, all featureless and griui. 

Lifted his bony hand, and beckoning 

Held out his cypress-wreath, she followed him, 

And Love was left forlorn and wondering, 

That she who for his bidding would not stay, 

At Death's first whisper rose and went away. 


i^f^HE, Ahmed Din! Shafii Ulla a hoof 
V_y Bahadur Khan, where are you ? Come 
out of the tents, as I have done, and fight against 
the English. Don't kill your own kin! Come 
out to me! " 

The deserter from a native corps was crawling 
round the outskirts of the camp, firing at inter- 
vals, and shouting invitations to his old comrades. 
Misled by the rain and the darkness, he came to 
the English wing of the camp, and with his yelp- 
ing and rifle-practice disturbed the men. They 
had been making roads all day, and were tired. 

Ortheris was sleeping at Learoyd's feet. 
"Wot's all that.^" "he said thickly. Learoyd 

342 Indian Tales 

snored, and a Snider bullet ripped its way 
through the tent wail. The men swore. "It's 
that bioomin' deserter from the Aurangabadis," 
said Ortheris. "Git up, some one, an' tell 'im 
'e's come to the wrong shop." 

"Go to sleep, little man," said Mulvaney, who 
was steaming nearest the door. "I can't arise 
and expaytiate with him. 'Tis rainin' entrenchin' 
tools outside." 

"Tain't because you bioomin' can't. It's 
'cause you bioomin' won't, ye long, limp, lousy, 
lazy beggar, you. 'Ark to 'im 'owlin' ! " 

" Wot's the good of argifying.? Put a bullet 
into the swine! 'E's keepin' us awake!" said 
another voice. 

A subaltern shouted angrily, and a dripping 
sentry whined from the darkness — 

"'Tain't no good, sir. I can't see 'im. 'E's 
'idin' somewhere down 'ill." 

Ortheris tumbled out of his blanket. "Shall I 
try to get 'im, sir?" said he. 

" No," was the answer. " Lie down. I won't 
have the whole camp shooting all round the 
clock. Tell him to go and pot his friends." 

Ortheris considered for a moment. Then, 
putting his head under the tent wall, he called, 
as a 'bus conductor calls in a bloi.k, "'Igher up, 
there! 'Igher up!" 

The men laughed, and the laughter was carried 

On Greenhow Hill 343 

down wind to the deserter, who, hearing that he 
had made a mistake, went off to worry his own 
regiment half a mile away. He was received 
with shots; the Aurangabadis were very angry 
with him for disgracing their colors. 

"An' that's all right," said Ortheris, withdraw- 
ing his head as he heard the hiccough of the 
Sniders in the distance. "S'elp me Gawd, tho', 
that man's not fit to live— messin' with my 
beauty-sleep this way." 

"Go out and shoot him in the morning, then," 
said the subaltern incautiously. " Silence in the 
tents now. Get your rest, men." 

Ortheris lay down with a happy little sigh, 
and in two minutes there was no sound except 
the rain on the canvas and the all-embracing and 
elemental snoring of Learoyd. 

The camp lay on a bare ridge of the Himalayas, 
and for a week had been waiting for a flying 
column to make connection. The nightly rounds 
of the deserter and his friends had become a 

In the morning the men dried themselves in 
hot sunshine and cleaned their grimy accoutre- 
ments. The native regiment was to take its turn 
of road-making that day while the Old Regiment 

" I'm goin' to lay for a shot at that man," said 
Ortheris, when he had finished washing out his 

344 Indian Tales 

rifle. "'E comes up the watercourse every 
evenin' about five o'clock. If we go and lie out 
on the north 'ill a bit this afternoon we'll get 'im." 

"You're a bloodthirsty little mosquito," said 
Mulvaney, blowing blue clouds into the air. 
" But 1 suppose 1 will have to come wid you. 
Fwhere's Jock.^" 

"Gone out with the Mixed Pickles, 'cause 'e 
thinks 'isself a bloomin' marksman," said Orth- 
eris, with scorn. 

The "Mixed Pickles" were a detachment of 
picked shots, generally employed in clearing 
spurs of hills when the enemy were too imperti- 
nent. This taught the young officers how to 
handle men, and did not do the enemy much 
harm, Mulvaney and Ortheris strolled out of 
camp, and passed the Aurangabadis going to their 

"You've got to sweat to-day," said Ortheris, 
genially. " We're going to get your man. You 
didn't knock 'im out last night by any chance, 
any of you.?" 

"No. The pig went away mocking us. I 
had one shot at him," said a private. " He's my 
cousin, and / ought to have cleared our dishonor. 
But good luck to you." 

They went cautiously to the north hill, Ortheris 
leading, because, as he explained, "this is a long- 
range show, an' I've got to do it." His was an 

On Greenhow Hill 345 

almost passionate devotion to his rifle, which, by 
barrack-room report, he was supposed to kiss 
every night before turning in. Charges and 
scuffles he held in contempt, and, when they 
were inevitable, slipped between Muivaney and 
Learoyd, bidding them to fight for his skin as 
well as their own. They never failed him. He 
trotted along, questing like a hound on a broken 
trail, through the wood of the north hill. At last 
he was satisfied, and threw himself down on the 
soft pine-needle slope that commanded a clear 
view of the watercourse and a brown, bare hill- 
side beyond it. The trees made a scented dark- 
ness in which an army corps could have hidden 
from the sun-glare without. 

'"Ere's the tail o' the wood," said Ortheris. 
"'E's got to come up the watercourse, *cause it 
gives 'im cover. We'll lay 'ere. 'Tain't not arf 
so bloomin' dusty neither." 

He buried his nose in a clump of scentless 
white violets. No one had come to tell the 
flowers that the season of their strength was long 
past, and they had bloomed merrily in the twi- 
light of the pines. 

"This is something like," he said, luxuriously. 
"Wot a 'evinly clear drop for a bullet acrost! 
How much d'you make it, Muivaney?" 

"Seven hunder. Maybe a trifle less, bekaze 
the air's so thin." 

346 Indian ral es 

Wop ! Wop ! Wop ! went a volley of musketry 
on the rear face of the north hill. 

"Curse them Mixed Pickles firin' at nothin'! 
They'll scare arf the country." 

"Thry a sightin' shot in the middle of the 
row," said Mulvaney, the man of many wiles. 
" There's a red rock yonder he'll be sure to pass. 

Ortheris ran his sight up to six hundred yards 
and fired. The bullet threw up a feather of dust 
by a clump of gentians at the base of the rock. 

"Good enough!" said Ortheris, snapping the 
scale down. " You snick your sights to mine or 
a little lower. You're always firin' high. But 
remember, first shot to me. O Lordy! but it's a 
lovely afternoon." 

The noise of the firing grew louder, and there 
was a tramping of men in the wood. The two 
lay very quiet, for they knew that the British 
soldier is desperately prone to fire at anything 
that moves or calls. Then Learoyd appeared, his 
tunic ripped across the breast by a bullet, look- 
ing ashamed of himself. He flung down on the 
pine-needles, breathing in snorts. 

" One o' them damned gardeners o' th' 
Pickles," said he, fingering the rent. " Firin' to 
th' right flank, when he knowed 1 was there. If 1 
knew who he was I'd 'a' rippen the hide ofTan 
him. Look at ma tunic! " 

On Greenhoiv Hill 347 

"That's the spishil trustability av a marksman. 
Train him to hit a fly wid a stiddy rest at seven 
hunder, an' he loose on anythin' he sees or hears 
up to th' mile. You're well out av that fancy- 
firin' gang, Jock. Stay here." 

" Bin firin' at the bloomin' wind in the bloomin' 
treetops," said Ortheris, with a chuckle. "I'll 
show you some firin' later on." 

They wallowed in the pine-needles, and the 
sun warmed them where they lay. The Mixed 
Pickles ceased firing, and returned to camp, and 
left the wood to a few scared apes. The water- 
course lifted up its voice in the silence, and 
talked foolishly to the rocks. Now and again 
the dull thump of a blasting charge three miles 
away told that the Aurangabadis were in diffi- 
culties with their road-making. The men smiled 
as they listened and lay still, soaking in the warm 
leisure. Presently Learoyd, between the whiffs 
of his pipe — 

"Seems queer — about 'im yonder — desertin' at 

"'E'll be a bloomin' side queerer when I've 
done with 'im," said Ortheris. They were talk- 
ing in whispers, for the stillness of the wood and 
the desire of slaughter lay heavy upon them. 

"1 make no doubt he had his reasons for de- 
sertin' ; but, my faith ! I make less doubt ivry man 
has good reason for killin' him," said Mulvaney. 

34^ Indian Tales 

" Happen there was a lass tewed up wi' it. 
Men do more than more for th' sake of a lass." 

"They make most av us 'list. They've no 
manner av right to make us desert." 

"Ah; they make us 'list, or their fathers do," 
said Learoyd, softly, his helmet over his eyes. 

Ortheris's brows contracted savagely. He was 
watching the valley. " If it's a girl I'll shoot the 
beggar twice over, an' second time for bein' a 
fool. You're blasted sentimental all of a sudden^ 
Thinkin' o' your last near shave ?" 

"Nay, lad; ah was but thinkin' o" what had 

"An' fwhat has happened, ye lumberin' child 
av calamity, that you're lowing like a cow-calf at 
the back av the pasture, an' suggestin' invidious 
excuses for the man Stanley's goin' to kill. Ye'll 
have to wait another hour yet, little man. Spit 
it out, Jock, an' bellow melojus to the moon. It 
takes an earthquake or a bullet graze to fetch 
aught out av you. Discourse, Don Juan! The 
a-moors av Lotharius Learoyd! Stanley, kape a 
rowlin' rig'mental eye on the valley." 

"It's along o' yon hill there," said Learoyd, 
watching the bare sub-Himalayan spur that re- 
minded him of his Yorkshire moors. He was 
speaking more to himself than his fellows. 
"Ay," said he, " Rumbolds Moor stands up 
ower Skipton town, an' Greenhow Hill stands up 

On Greenhow Hill 349 

ower Pately Brig. I reckon you've never heeard 
tell o' Greenhow Hill, but yon bit o' bare stuff if 
there was nobbut a white road windin' is like ut; 
strangely like. Moors an' moors an' moors, wi' 
never a tree for shelter, an' grey houses wi' flag- 
stone rooves, and pewits cryin', an' a wind- 
hover goin' to and fro just like these kites. And 
cold! A wind that cuts you like a knife. You 
could tell Greenhow Hill folk by the red-apple 
color 0' their cheeks an' nose tips, and their blue 
eyes, driven into pin-points by the wind. Miners 
mostly, burrowin' for lead i' th' hillsides, followin' 
the trail of th' ore vein same as a field-rat. It was 
the roughest minin' I ever seen. Yo'd come on 
a bit o' creakin' v/ood windlass like a well-head, 
an' you was let down i' th' bight of a rope, 
fendin' yoursen off the side wi' one hand, carryin' 
a candle stuck in a lump o' clay with t'other, an' 
clickin' hold of a rope with t'other hand." 

"An' that's three of them," said Mulvaney. 
" Must be a good climate in those parts." 

Learoyd took no heed. 

"An' then yo' came to a level, where you 
crept on your hands and knees through a mile o' 
windin' drift, an' you come out into a cave-place 
as big as Leeds Townhall, with a engine pumpin' 
water from workin's 'at went deeper still. It's a 
queer country, let alone minin', for the hill is full 
of those natural caves, an' the rivers an' the becks 


Indian Tales 

drops into what they call pot-holes, an' come out 
again miles away. " 

"Wot was you doin' there ?" said Ortheris. 

"I was a young chap then, an' mostly went 
wi' 'osses, leadin' coal and lead ore; but at th' 
time I'm tellin' on I was drivin' the waggon-team 
i' th' big sumph. I didn't belong to that country- 
side by rights. I went there because of a little 
difference at home, an' at fust I took up wi' a 
rough lot. One night we'd been drinkin', an' I 
must ha' hed more than 1 could stand, or happen 
th' ale was none so good. Though i' them days, 
By for God, I never seed bad ale." He flung his 
arms over his head, and gripped a vast handful 
of white violets. "Nah," said he, " I never seed 
the ale I could not drink, the bacca I could not 
smoke, nor the lass I could not kiss. Well, we 
mun have a race home, the lot on us. I lost all 
th' others, an' when I was climbin' ower one of 
them walls built o' loose stones, I comes down 
into the ditch, stones and all, an' broke my arm. 
Not as I knawed much about it, for I fell on th' 
back of my head, an' was knocked stupid like. 
An' when I come to mysen it were mornin', an' I 
were iyin' on the settle i' Jesse Roantree's house- 
place, an' 'Liza Roantree was settin' sewin'. 1 
ached all ower, and my mouth were like a lime- 
kiln. She gave me a drink out of a china mug 
wi' gold letters — ' A Present from Leeds ' — as I 

On Greenhow Hill 351 

looked at many and many a time at after. ' Yo're 
to lie still while Dr. Warbottom comes, because 
your arm's broken, and father has sent a lad to 
fetch him. He found yo' when he was goin' to 
work, an' carried you here on his back,' sez she. 
' Oa! ' sez I ; an' 1 shet my eyes, for I felt ashamed 
o' mysen. ' Father's gone to his work these 
three hours, an' he said he' tell 'em to get some- 
body to drive the tram.' The clock ticked, an' a 
bee comed in the house, an' they rung i' my head 
like mill-wheels. An' she give me another drink 
an' settled the pillow. ' Eh, but yo're young to 
be getten drunk an' such like, but yo' won't do 
it again, will yo' ? ' — 'Noa,' sez I, '1 wouldn't if 
she'd not but stop they mill-wheels clatterin'.' " 

"Faith, it's a good thing to be nursed by a 
woman when you're sick!" said Mulvaney. 
" Dir' cheap at the price av twenty broken 

Ortheris turned to frown across the valley. He 
had not been nursed by many women in his life. 

"An' then Dr. Warbottom comes ridin' up, an' 
Jesse Roantree along with 'im. He was a high- 
larned doctor, but he talked wi' poor folk same 
as theirsens. ' What's ta bin agaate on naa ? ' he 
sings out. ' Brekkin' tha thick head?' An' he 
felt me all ovver. ' That's none broken. Tha' 
nobbut knocked a bit sillier than ordinary, an' 
that's daaft eneaf.' An' soa he went on, callin' 

352 Indian Tales 

me all the names he could think on, but settin' 
my arm, wi' Jesse's help, as careful as could be. 
' Yo' mun let the big oaf bide here a bit, Jesse,' 
he says, when he hed strapped me up an' given 
me a dose o' physic; ' an' you an' 'Liza will tend 
him, though he's scarcelins worth the trouble. 
An' tha'll lose tha work,' sez he, 'an' tha'll be 
upon th' Sick Club for a couple o' months an' 
more. Doesn't tha think tha's a fool ? ' " 

" But whin was a young man, high or low, the 
other av a fool, I'd like to know ? " said Mul- 
vaney. " Sure, folly's the only safe way to wis- 
dom, for I've thried it." 

"Wisdom!" grinned Ortheris, scanning his 
comrades with uplifted chin. " You're bloomin' 
Solomons, you two, ain't you }" 

Learoyd went calmly on, with a steady eye 
like an ox chewing the cud. 

"And that was how I come to know 'Liza 
Roantree. There's some tunes as she used to 
sing — aw, she were always singin' — that fetches 
Greenhow Hill before my eyes as fair as yon 
brow across there. And she would learn me to 
sing bass, an' I was to go to th' chapel wi' 'em 
where Jesse and she led the singin', th' old man 
playin' the fiddle. He was a strange chap, old 
Jesse, fair mad wi' music, an' he made me prom- 
ise to learn the big fiddle when my arm was bet- 
ter. It belonged to him. and it stood up in a big 

On Greenhow Hill 353 

case alongside o' th' eight-day clock, but Willie 
Satterthwaite, as played it in the chapel, had get- 
ten deaf as a door-post, and it vexed Jesse, as he 
had to rap him ower his head wi' th' fiddle-stick 
to make him give ower sawin' at th' right time. 

" But there was a black drop in it all, an' it 
was a man in a black coat that brought it. When 
th' primitive Methodist preacher came to Green- 
how, he would always stop wi' Jesse Roantree, 
an' he laid hold of me from th' beginning. It 
seemed I wor a soul to be saved, and he meaned 
to do it. At th' same time I jealoused 'at he 
were keen o' savin' 'Liza Roantree's soul as well, 
and I could ha' killed him many a time. An' 
this went on till one day I broke out, an' bor- 
rowed th' brass for a drink from 'Liza, After 
fower days I come back, wi' my tail between my 
legs, just to see 'Liza again. But Jesse were at 
home an' th' preacher — th' Reverend Amos Bar- 
raclough, 'Liza said naught, but a bit 0' red 
come into her face as were white of a regular 
thing. Says Jesse, tryin' his best to be civil, 
'Nay, lad, it's like this. You've getten to choose 
which way it's goin' to be. I'll ha' nobody across 
ma doorstep as goes a-drinkin', an' borrows my 
lass's money to spend i' their drink. Ho'd tha 
tongue, 'Liza,' sez he, when she wanted to put 
in a word 'at I were welcome to th' brass, and 
she were none afraid that 1 wouldn't pay it back. 

554 Indian Tales 

Then the Reverend cuts in, seein' as Jesse were 
losin' his temper, an' they fair beat me among 
them. But it were 'Liza, as looked an' said 
naught, as did more than either o' their tongues, 
an' soa I concluded to get converted." 

"Fwhat?" shouted Mulvaney. Then, check- 
ing himself, he said softly, "Let be! Let be! 
Sure the Blessed Virgin is the mother of all reli- 
gion an' most women; an' there's a dale av piety 
in a girl if the men would only let ut stay there. 
I'd ha' been converted myself under the circum- 

"Nay, but," pursued Learoyd with a blush, 
"\ meaned it." 

Ortheris laughed as loudly as he dared, having 
regard to his business at the time. 

" Ay, Ortheris, you may laugh, but you didn't 
know yon preacher Barraclough — a little white- 
faced chap, wi' a voice as 'ud wile a bird off an 
a bush, and a way o* layin' hold of folks as made 
them think they'd never had a live man for a 
friend before. You never saw him, an' — an' — 
you never seed 'Liza Roantree — never seed 'Liza 
Roantree. . . . Happen it was as much 'Liza 
as th' preacher and her father, but anyways they 
all meaned it, an' I was fair shamed o' mysen, an' 
so I become what they call a changed character. 
And when I think on, it's hard to believe as yon 
chap going to prayermeetin's, chapel, and class- 

On Greenhow Hill 355 

meetin's were me. But I nevet had naught to 
say for mysen, though there was a deal o' shoutin', 
and old Sammy Strother, as were almost clemmed 
to death and doubled up with the rheumatics, 
would sing out, 'Joyful! Joyful!' and 'at it were 
better to go up to heaven in a coal-basket than 
down to hell i' a coach an' six. And he would 
put his poor old claw on my shoulder, sayin', 
' Doesn't tha feel it, tha great lump .^ Doesn't tha 
feel it }' An' sometimes 1 thought 1 did, and then 
again 1 thought 1 didn't, an' how was that ? " 

"The iverlastin' nature av mankind," said Mul- 
vaney. " An', furthermore, 1 misdoubt you 
were built for the Primitive Methodians. They're 
a new corps anyways. I hold by the Ould 
Church, for she's the mother of them all — ay, an' 
the father, too. 1 like her bekase she's most re- 
markable regimental in her fittings. I may die 
in Honolulu, Nova Zambra, or Cape Cayenne, 
but wherever I die, me bein' fwhat 1 am, an' a 
priest handy, 1 go under the same orders an' the 
same words an' the same unction as tho' the 
Pope himself come down from the roof av St. 
Peter's to see me off. There's neither high nor 
low, nor broad nor deep, nor betwixt nor be- 
tween wid her, an' that's what 1 like. But mark 
you. she's no manner av Church for a wake man, 
bekaze she takes the body and the soul av him, 
onless he has his proper work to do. I remem- 

3 56 Indian Tales 

ber when my father died that was three months 
comin' to his grave; begad he'd ha' sold the she- 
been above our heads for ten minutes' quittance 
of purgathory. An' he did all he could. That's 
why I say ut takes a strong man to deal with the 
Ould Church, an' for that reason you'll find so 
many women go there. An' that same's a co- 

" Wot's the use o' worritin' 'bout these things ?" 
said Ortheris. " You're bound to find all out 
quicker nor you want to, any'ow." He jerked 
the cartridge out of the breech-block into the 
palm of his hand. " Ere's my chaplain," he said, 
and made the venomous black-headed bullet bow 
like a marionette. " 'E's goin' to teach a man all 
about which is which, an' wot's true, after all, 
before sundown. But wot 'appened after that, 

"There was one thing they boggled at, and 
almost shut th' gate i' my face for, and that were 
my dog Blast, th' only one saved out o' a litter o' 
pups as was blowed up when a keg o' minin' 
powder loosed off in th' storekeeper's hut. They 
liked his name no better than his business, which 
were fightin' every dog he comed across; a rare 
good dog, wi' spots o' black and pink on his face, 
one ear gone, and lame o' one side wi' being 
driven in a basket through an iron roof, a matter 
of half a mile. 

On Greenhow Hill 357 

"They said I mun give him up 'cause he were 
worldly and low; and would I let mysen be shut 
out of heaven for the sake on a dog? 'Nay,' 
says I, ' if th' door isn't wide enough for th' pair 
on us, we'll stop outside, for we'll none be parted.' 
And th' preacher spoke up for Blast, as had a 
likin' for him from th' first — 1 reckon that was 
why I come to like th' preacher — and wouldn't 
hear o' changin' his name to Bless, as some o' 
them wanted. So th' pair on us became reg'lar 
chapel-members. But it's hard for a young chap 
o' my build to cut traces from the world, th' 
flesh, an' the devil all uv a heap. Yet I stuck to 
it for a long time, while th' lads as used to stand 
about th' town-end an' lean ower th' bridge, 
spittin' into th' beck o' a Sunday, would call 
after me, 'Sitha, Learoyd, when's ta bean to 
preach, 'cause we're comin' to hear tha.' — ' Ho'd 
tha jaw. He hasn't getten th' white choaker on 
ta morn,' another lad would say, and 1 had to 
double my lists hard i' th' bottom of my Sunday 
coat, and say to .mysen, ' If 'twere Monday and 
I warn't a member o' the Primitive Methodists, 
I'd leather all th' lot of yond'.' That was th' 
hardest of all — to know that I could fight and I 
mustn't fight." 

Sympathetic grunts from Mulvaney. 

"So what wi' singin', practicin', and class- 
meetin's, and th' big fiddle, as he made me take 

358 Indian Tales 

between my knees, I spent a deal o' time i' Jesse 
Roantree's house-place. But often as I was there, 
th' preacher fared to me to go oftener, and both 
th' old man an' th' young woman were pleased 
to have him. He lived i' Pately Brig, as were a 
goodish step off, but he come. He come all the 
same. I liked him as well or better as any man 
I'd ever seen i' one way, and yet 1 hated him wi' 
all my heart i' t'other, and we watched each 
other like cat and mouse, but civil as you please, 
for I was on my best behavior, and he was that 
fair and open that I was bound to be fair with 
him. Rare good company he was, if I hadn't 
wanted to wring his diver little neck half of the 
time. Often and often when he was goin' from 
Jesse's I'd set him a bit on the road." 

"See 'ini 'ome, you mean.?" said Ortheris. 

" Ay. It's a way we have i' Yorkshire o' seein' 
friends off. You was a friend as 1 didn't want to 
come back, and he didn't want me to come back 
neither, and so we'd walk together toward 
Pately, and then he'd set me back again, and 
there we'd be wal two o'clock i' the mornin' 
settin' each other to an' fro like a blasted pair o' 
pendulums twixt hill and valley, long after th' 
light had gone out i' 'Liza's window, as both on 
us had been looking at, pretending to watch the 

"Ah!" broke in Mulvaney, "ye'd no chanst 

On Greenhow Hill 359 

against the maraudin' psalm-singer. They'll take 
the airs an' the graces instid av the man nine 
times out av ten, an' they only find the blunder 
later — the wimmen." 

' • That's just where yo're wrong, " said Learoyd, 
reddening under the freckled tan of his cheeks. 
" 1 was th' first wi' 'Liza, an' yo'd think that were 
enough. But th' parson were a steady-gaited 
sort 0' chap, and Jesse were strong 0' his side, 
and all th' women i' the congregation dinned it 
to 'Liza 'at she were fair fond to take up wi' a 
wastrel ne'er-do-weel like me, as was scarcelins 
respectable an' a fighting dog at his heels. It 
was all very well for her to be doing me good 
and saving my soul, but she must mind as she 
didn't do heiself harm. They talk o' rich folk 
bein' stuck up an' genteel, but for cast-iron pride 
0' respectability there's naught like poor chapel 
folk. It's as cold as th' wind o' Greenhow Hill — 
ay, and colder, for 'twill never change. And 
now I come to think on it, one at strangest things 
I know is 'at they couldn't abide th' thought o' 
soldiering. There's a vast o' fightin' i' th' Bible, 
and there's a deal of Methodists i' th' army; but 
to hear chapel folk talk yo'd think that soldierin' 
were next door, an' t'other side, to hangin'. I' 
their meetin's all their talk is o' fightin'. When 
Sammy Strother were stuck for summat to say in 
his prayers, he'd sing out, ' Th' sword o' th' 

360 Indian Tales 

Lord and o' Gideon.' They were alius at it about 
puttin' on th' whole armor 0' righteousness, an' 
fightin' the good fight o' faith. And then, atop 
o' 't all, they held a prayer-meetin' ower a young 
chap as wanted to 'list, and nearly deafened him, 
till he picked up his hat and fair ran away. And 
they'd tell tales in th' Sunday-school o' bad lads 
as had been thumped and brayed for bird-nesting 
o' Sundays and playin' truant o' week days, and 
how they took to wrestlin', dog-fightin", rabbit- 
runnin', and drinkin', till at last, as if 'twere a 
hepitaph on a gravestone, they damned him 
across th' moors wi', 'an' then he went and 
'listed for a soldier,' an' they'd all fetch a deep 
breath, and throw up their eyes like a hen 

" Fwhy is ut ?" said Mulvaney, bringing down 
his hand on his thigh with a crack. "In the 
name av God, fwhy is ut ? I've seen ut, tu. 
They cheat an' they swindle an' they lie an' they 
slander, an' fifty things fifty times worse; but the 
last an' the worst by their reckonin' is to serve 
the Widdy honest. It's like the talk av childer — 
seein' things all round." 

" Plucky lot of fightin' good fights of whatser- 
name they'd do if we didn't see they had a quiet 
place to fight in. And such fightin' as theirs is! 
Cats on the tiles. T'other callin' to which to 
come on. I'd give a month's pay to get some o' 

On Greenhow Hill 361 

them broad-backed beggars in London sweatin' 
through a day's road-makin' an' a night's rain. 
They'd carry on a deal afterward — same as we're 
supposed to carry on. I've bin turned out of a 
measly arf-license pub down Lambeth way, full 
o' greasy kebmen, 'fore now," said Ortheris with 
an oath. 

"Maybe you were dhrunk," said Mulvaney, 

"Worse nor that. The Forders were drunk. 
/ was wearin' the Queen's uniform." 

"I'd no particular thought to be a soldier i' 
them days," said Learoyd, still keeping his eye on 
the bare hill opposite, "but this sort o' talk put it 
i' my head. They was so good, th' chapel folk, 
that they tumbled ower t'other side. But 1 stuck 
to it for 'Liza's sake, specially as she was learn- 
ing me to sing the bass part in a horotorio as 
Jesse were gettin' up. She sung like a throstle 
hersen, and we had practicin's night after night 
for a matter of three months." 

"I know what a horotorio is," said Ortheris, 
pertly. "It's a sort of chaplain's sing-song^ 
words aP out of the Bible, and hullabaloojah 

"Mv^st Greenhow Hill folks played some in- 
strument or t'other, an' they all sung so you 
might have heard them miles away, and they 
were so pleased wi' the noise they made they 

362 Indian Tales 

didn't fair to want anybody to listen. The 
preacher sung high seconds when he wasn't 
piayin' the flute, an' they set me, as hadn't got 
far with big fiddle, again Willie Satterthwaite, to 
jog his elbow when he had to get a' gate piayin'. 
Old Jesse was happy if ever a man was, for he 
were th' conductor an' th' first fiddle an' th' 
leadin' singer, beatin' time wi' his fiddle-stick, 
till at times he'd rap with it on the table, and cry 
out. 'Now, you mun all stop; it's my turn.' 
And he'd face round to his front, fair sweating 
wi' pride, to sing th' tenor solos. But he were 
grandest i' th' choruses, waggin' his head, fling- 
ing his arms round like a windmill, and singin' 
hisself black in the face. A rare singer were 

" Yo' see, I was not 0' much account wi' 'em 
all exceptin' to 'Liza Roantree, and I had a deal 
o' time settin' quiet at meetings and horotorio 
practices to hearken their talk, and if it were 
strange to me at beginnin', it got stranger still at 
after, when I was shut on it, and could study 
what it meaned. 

"Just after th' horotorios come off, 'Liza, as 
had alius been weakly like, was took very bad. 
I walked Dr. Warbottom's horse up and down a 
deal of times while he were inside, where they 
wouldn't let me go, though I fair ached to see 

On Greenhow Hill 363 

" ' She'll be better i' noo, lad — better i' noo,' he 
used to say. 'Tha mun ha' patience.' Then 
they said if I was quiet I might go in, and th' 
Reverend Amos Barraclough used to read to her 
lyin' propped up among th' pillows. Then she 
began to mend a bit, and they let me carry her 
on to th' settle, and when it got warm again she 
went about same as afore. Th' preacher and me 
and Blast was a deal together i' them days, and i' 
one way we was rare good comrades. But I 
could ha' stretched him time and again with a 
good will. I mind one day he said he would 
like to go down into th' bowels 0' th' earth, and 
see how th' Lord had builded th' framework o' 
th' everlastin' hills. He were one of them chaps 
as had a gift o' sayin' things. They rolled off the 
tip of his clever tongue, same as Mulvaney here, 
as would ha' made a rare good preacher if he had 
nobbut given his mind to it. I lent him a suit o' 
miner's kit as almost buried th' little man, and 
his white face down i' th' coat-collar and hat- 
flap looked like the face of a boggart, and he 
cowered down i' th' bottom 0' the waggon. I 
was drivin' a tram as led up a bit of an incline up 
to th' cave where the engine was pumpin', and 
where th' ore was brought up and put into th' 
waggons as went down o' themselves, me put- 
tin' th' brake on and th' horses a-trottin' after. 
Long as it was daylight we were good friends. 

3^4 Indian Tales 

but when we got fair into th' dark, and could 
nobbut see th' day shinin' at the hole like a lamp 
at a street-end, I feeled downright wicked. Ma 
religion dropped all away from me when I looked 
back at him as were always comin' between me 
and 'Liza, The talk was 'at they were to be wed 
when she got better, an' I couldn't get her to say 
yes or nay to it. He began to sing a hymn in his 
thin voice, and I came out wi' a chorus that was 
all cussin' an' swearin' at my horses, an' 1 began 
to know how I hated him. He were such a little 
chap, too. 1 could drop him wi' one hand down 
Garstang's Copper-hole — a place where th' beck 
slithered ower th' edge on a rock, and fell wi' a 
bit of a whisper into a pit as no rope i' Greenhow 
could plump." 

Again Learoyd rooted up the innocent violets. 
"Ay, he should see th' bowels o' th' earth an' 
never naught else. 1 could take him a mile or 
two along th' drift, and leave him wi' his candle 
doused to cry hallelujah, wi' none to hear him 
and say amen. 1 was to lead him down th' lad- 
der-way to th' drift where Jesse Roantree was 
workin', and why shouldn't he slip on th' ladder, 
wi' my feet on his fingers till they loosed grip, 
and I put him down wi' my heel ? If I went fust 
down th' ladder I could click hold on him and 
chuck him over my head, so as he should go 
squshin' down the shaft, breakin' his bones at 

On Greenhow Hill 05 

ev'ry timberin' as Bill Appleton did when he was 
fresh, and hadn't a bone left when he wrought 
to th' bottom, Niver a blasted leg to walk from 
Pately. Niver an arm to put round 'Liza Roan- 
tree's waist. Niver no more — niver no more." 

The thick lips curled back over the yellow teeth, 
and that flushed face was not pretty to look 
upon. Mulvaney nodded sympathy, and Orthe- 
ris, moved by his comrade's passion, brought up 
the rifle to his shoulder, and searched the hillside 
for his quarry, muttering ribaldry about a spar- 
row, a spout, and a thunderstorm. The voice 
of the watercourse supplied the necessary small 
talk till Learoyd picked up his story. 

" But it's none so easy to kill a man like yon. 
When I'd given up my horses to th' lad as took 
my place and I was showin' th' preacher th' 
workin's, shoutin' into his ear across th' clang o' 
th' pumpin' engines, I saw he were afraid o' 
naught; and when the lamplight showed his 
black eyes, I could feel as he was masterin' me 
again. I were no better nor Blast chained up 
short and growlin' i' the depths of him v/hile a 
strange dog went safe past. 

" 'Th'art a coward and a fool,' I said to my- 
sen; an' I wrestled i' my mind again' him till, 
when we come to Garstang's Copper-hole, 1 laid 
hold o' the preacher and lifted him up over my 
head and held him into the darkest on it. ' Now, 

366 , Indian Tales 

lad,' 1 says, ' it's to be one or t'other on us — thee 
or me — for 'Liza Roantree. Why, isn't thee 
afraid for thysen ?' I says, for he were still i' my 
arms as a sack. 'Nay; I'm but afraid for thee, 
my poor lad, as knows naught,' says he. I set 
him down on th' edge, an' th' beck run stiller, 
an' there was no more buzzin' in my head like 
when th' bee come through th' window o' Jesse's 
house. ' What dost tha mean }' says I. 

" ' I've often thought as thou ought to know,* 
says he, ' but 'twas hard to tell thee. 'Liza 
Roantree's for neither on us, nor for nobody o' 
this earth. Dr. Warbottom says— and he knows 
her, and her mother before her — that she is in a 
decline, and she cannot live six months longer. 
He's known it for many a day. Steady, John! 
Steady!' says he. And that weak little man 
pulled me further back and set me again' him, 
and talked it all over quiet and still, me turnin' a 
bunch o' candles in my hand, and counting them 
ower and ower again as I listened. A deal on it 
were th' regular preachin' talk, but there were a 
vast lot as made me begin to think as he were 
more of a man than I'd ever given him credit for, 
till I were cut as deep for him as I were for mysen. 

"Six candles we had, and we crawled and 
climbed all that day while they lasted, and I said 
to mysen, "Liza Roantree hasn't six months to 
live.' And when we came into th' daylight again 

On Greenhow Hill 367 

we were like dead men to look at, an' Blast come 
behind us without so much as waggin' his tail. 
When I saw 'Liza again she looked at me a 
minute and says, ' Who's telled tha ? For I see 
tha knows.' And she tried to smile as she kissed 
me, and I fair broke down. 

" Yo' see, I was a young chap i' them days, 
and had seen naught o' life, let alone death, as is 
alius a-waitin'. She telled me as Dr. Warbottom 
said as Greenhow air was too keen, and they 
were goin' to Bradford, to Jesse's brother David, 
as worked i' a mill, and 1 mun hold up like a 
man and a Christian, and she'd pray for me. 
Well, and they went away, and the preacher that 
same back end o' th' year were appointed to an- 
other circuit, as they call it, and 1 were left alone 
on Greenhow Hill. 

" 1 tried, and 1 tried hard, to stick to th' chapel, 
but 'tweren't th' same thing at after. I hadn't 
'Liza's voice to follov/ i' th' singin', nor her eyes 
a-shinin' acrost their heads. And i' th' class- 
meetings they said as I mun have some experi- 
ences to tell, and 1 hadn't a word to say for 

" Blast and me moped a good deal, and happen 
we didn't behave ourselves over well, for they 
dropped us and wondered however they'd come 
to take us up. I can't tell how we got through 
th' time, while i' th' winter 1 gave up my job and 

368 Indian Tales 

went to Bradford. Old Jesse were at th' door o' 
th' house, in a long street o' little houses. He'd 
been sendin' th' children 'wa}' as were clatterin' 
their clogs in th' causeway, for she were asleep. 

"'Is it thee .^' he says; ' but you're not to see 
her. I'll none have her wakened for a nowt like 
thee. She's goin' fast, and she mun go in peace. 
Thou'lt never be good for naught i' th' world, 
and as long -as thou lives thou'll never play the 
big fiddle. Get away, lad, get away ! ' So he 
shut the door softly i' my face. 

"Nobody never made Jesse my master, but it 
seemed to me he was about right, and I went 
away into the town and knocked up against a 
recruiting sergeant. The old tales o' th' chapel 
folk came buzzin' into my head. I was to get 
away, and this were th' regular road for the likes 
o' me. 1 'listed there and then, took th' Widow's 
shillin', and had a bunch o' ribbons pinned i' my 

"But next day I found my way to David 
Roantree's door, and Jesse came to open it. 
Says he, ' Thou's come back again v/i' th' devil's 
colors flyin'— thy true colors, as I always telled 

" But I begged and prayed of him to let me see 
her nobbut to say good-bye, till a woman calls 
down th' stairway, ' She says John Learoyd's to 
come up.' Th' old man shifts aside in a flash. 

On Green how Hill 369 

and lays his hand on my arm, quite gentie like. 
'But thou'lt be quiet, John,' says he, 'for she's 
rare and weak. Thou was alius a good lad.' 

" Her eyes were all alive wi' light, and her hair 
was thick on the pillow round her, but her cheeks 
were thin — thin to frighten a man that's strong. 
' Nay, father, yo mayn't say th' devil's colors. 
Them ribbons is pretty.' An' she held out her 
hands for th' hat, an' she put all straight as a 
woman will wi' ribbons. '^Nay, but what 
they're pretty,' she says. ' Eh, but I'd ha' liked 
to see thee i' thy red coat, John, for thou was 
alius my own lad — my very own lad, and none 

"She lifted up her arms, and they come round 
my neck i' a gentle grip, and they slacked away, 
and she seemed fainting. ' Now yo' mun get 
away, lad,' says Jesse, and I picked up my hat 
and 1 came downstairs. 

" Th' recruiting sergeant were waitin' for me 
at th' corner public-house. ' You've seen your 
sweetheart ? ' says he. ' Yes, I've seen her,' says 
I. 'Well, we'll have a quart now, and you'll do 
your best to forget her,' says he, bein' one o' 
them smart, bustlin' chaps. 'Ay, sergeant,' says 
I. 'Forget her.' And I've been forgettin' her 
ever since." 

He threw away the wilted clump of white vio- 
lets as he spoke. Ortheris suddenly rose to his 

370 ■ Indian Tales 

knees, his rifle at his shoulder, and peered across 
the valley in the clear afternoon light. His chin 
cuddled the stock, and there was a twitching of 
the muscles of the right cheek as he sighted; 
Private Stanley Ortheris was engaged on his busi- 
ness. A speck of white crawled up the water- 

" See that beggar ? . . . Got 'im." 

Seven hundred yards away, and a full two 
hundred down the hillside, the deserter of the 
Aurangabadis pitched forward, rolled down a red 
rock, and lay very still, with his face in a clump 
of blue gentians, while a big raven flapped out of 
the pine wood to make investigation. 

"That's a clean shot, little man," said Mul- 

Learoyd thoughtfully watched the smoke clear 
away. " Happen there was a lass tewed up wi* 
him, too," said he. 

Ortheris did not reply. He was staring across 
the valley, with the smile of the artist who looks 
on the completed work. 


By the hoof of the Wild Goat up-tossed 
From the Cliff where She lay in the Sun, 

Fell the Stone 
To the Tarn where the daylight is lost; 
So She fell from the light of the Sun, 

And alone. 

Now the fall was ordained from the first, 
With the Goat and the Cliff and the Tarn, 

But the Stone 
Knows only Her life is accursed, 
As She sinks in the depths of the Tarn, 

And alone. 

Oh, Thou who hast builded the world! 
Oh, Thou who hast lighted the Sun! 
Oh, Thou who hast darkened the Tarn ! 

Judge Thou 
The sin of the Stone that was hurled 
By the Goat from the light of the Sun, 
As She sinks in the mire of the Tarn, 

Even now — even now — even now ! 
— Fj'om the Unptiblis/ied Papers of Mcintosh Jellaludin. 


AY is it dawn, is it dusk in thy Bower, 
Thou whom 1 long for, who longest for 
Oh, be it night — be it" — 

3/2 Indian Tale% 

Here he fell over a little camel-colt that was 
sleeping in the Serai where the horse-traders and 
the best of the blackguards from Central Asia 
live; and, because he was very drunk indeed and 
the night was dark, he could not rise again till 1 
helped him. That was the beginning of my ac- 
quaintance with Mcintosh Jellaludin. When a 
loafer, and drunk, sings "The Song of the 
Bower," he must be worth cultivating. He got 
off the camel's back and said, rather thickly, " I 
— 1 — I'm a bit screwed, but a dip in Loggerhead 
will put me right again; and, 1 say, have you 
spoken to Symonds about the mare's knees.?" 

Now Loggerhead was six thousand weary miles 
away from us, close to Mesopotamia, where you 
mustn't fish and poaching is impossible, and 
Charley Symonds' stable a half mile farther across 
the paddocks. It was strange to hear all the old 
names, on a May night, among the horses and 
camels of the Sultan Caravanserai. Then the man 
seemed to remember himself and sober down at 
the same time. We leaned against the camel 
and pointed to a corner of the Serai where a lamp 
was burning. 

"1 live there," said he, "and I should be ex- 
tremely obliged if you would be good enough to 
help my mutinous feet thither; for ! am more 
than usually drunk — most — most phenomenally 
tight. But not in respect to my head. ' My 

To be Filed for Reference 373 

brain cries out against' — how does it go ? But 
my head rides on the — rolls on the dunghill I 
should have said, and controls the qualm." 

I helped him through the gangs of tethered 
horses and he collapsed on the edge of the veranda 
in front of the line of native quarters. 

"Thanks — a thousand thanks! O Moon and 
little, little Stars! To think that a man should so 
shamelessly . . . Infamous liquor too. Ovid 
in exile drank no worse. Better. It was frozen. 
Alas! I had no ice. Good-night. I would in- 
troduce you to my wife were 1 sober — or she civ- 

A native woman came out of the darkness of 
the room, and began calling the man names; so 
I went aw. j. He was the most interesting loafer 
that I had had the pleasure of knowing for a long 
time; and later on, he became a friend of mine. 
He was a tall, well-built, fair man, fearfully 
shaken with drink, and he looked nearer Hfty 
than the thirty-tive which, he said, was his real 
age. When a man begins to sink in India, and 
is not sent Home by his friends as soon as may 
be, he falls very low from a respectable point of 
view. By the time that he changes his creed, 
as did Mcintosh, he is past redemption. 

In most big cities, natives will tell you of two 
or three Sahibs, generally low-caste, who have 
turned Hindu or Mussulman, and who li'^e more 

374 Indian Tales 

or less as such. But it is not often that you can 
get to know them. As Mchitosh himself used to 
say, "If I change my religion for my stomach's 
sake, 1 do not seek to become a martyr to mis- 
sionaries, nor am 1 anxious for notonety " 

At the outset of acquaintance Mcintosh warned 
me. "Remember this. I am not an object for 
charity. I require neither your money, your food, 
nor your cast-off raiment. I am that rare animal, 
a self-supporting drunkard. If you choose, I will 
smoke with you, for the tobacco of the bazars 
does not, I admit, suit my palate; and I will bor- 
row any books which you may not specially 
value. It is more than likely that I shall sell them 
for bottles of excessively filthy country liquors. 
In return, you shall share such hospitality as my 
house affords. Here is a charpoy on which two 
can sit, and it is possible that there may, from 
time to time, be food in that platter. Drink, un- 
fortunately, you will find on the premises at any 
hour: and thus I make you welcome to all my 
poor establishment." 

I was admitted to the Mcintosh household—! 
and my good tobacco. But nothing else. Un- 
luckily, one cannot visit a loafer in the Serai by 
day. Friends buying horses would not under- 
stand it. Consequently, I was obliged to see Mc- 
intosh after dark. He laughed at this, and said 
simply, "You are perfectly right. When I en- 

To be Filed for Reference 375 

joyed a position in society, rather higher than 
yours, I should have done exactly the same thing. 
Good heavens ! I was once " — he spoke as though 
he had fallen from the Command of a Regiment 
— " an Oxford Man ! " This accounted for the ref- 
erence to Charley Symonds' stable. 

" You," said Mcintosh, slowly, " have not had 
that advantage; but, to outward appearance, you 
do not seem possessed of a craving for strong 
drinks. On the whole, 1 fancy that you are the 
luckier of the two. Yet 1 am not certain. You 
are — forgive my saying so even while 1 am smok- 
ing your excellent tobacco — painfully ignorant of 
many things." 

We were sitting together on the edge of his 
bedstead, for he owned no chairs, watching the 
horses being watered for the night, while the na- 
tive woman was preparing dinner. I did not like 
being patronized by a loafer, but I was his guest 
for the time being, though he owned only one 
very torn alpaca-coat and a pair of trousers made 
out of gunny-bags. He took the pipe out of his 
mouth, and went on judicially, "All things con- 
sidered, I doubt whether you are the luckier. I 
do not refer to your extremely limited classical 
attainments, or your excruciating quantities, but 
to your gross ignorance of matters more imme- 
diately under your notice. That, for instance," 
he pointed to a woman cleaning a samovar near 

376 Indian Tales 

the well in the centre of the Serai. She was flick- 
ing the water out of the spout in regular cadenced 

"There are ways and ways of cleaning sam- 
ovars. If you knew why she was doing her 
work in that particular fashion, you would know 
what the Spanish Monk meant when he said — 

I the Trinity illustrate, 

Drinking watered orange-pulp — 
In three sips the Arian frustrate, 

While he drains his at one gulp — 

and many other things which now are hidden 
from your eyes. However, Mrs. Mcintosh has 
prepared dinner. Let us come and eat after the 
fashion of the people of the country — of whom, 
by the way, you know nothing." 

The native woman dipped her hand in the dish 
with us. This was wrong. The wife should 
always wait until the husband has eaten. Mcin- 
tosh Jellaludin apologized, saying — 

"It is an English prejudice which I have not 
been able to overcome; and she loves me. Why, 
I have never been able to understand. I fore- 
gathered with her at Jullundur, three years ago, 
and she has remained with me ever since. I be- 
lieve her to be moral, and know her to be skilled 
in cookery." 

He patted the woman's head as he sDoke. and 

To be Filed for Reference 377 

she cooed softly. She was not pretty to look 

Mcintosh never told me what position he had 
held before his fall. He was, when sober, a 
scholar and a gentleman. When drunk, he was 
rather more of the first than the secc:id. He used 
to get drunk about once a week for two dnys. 
On those occasions the native woman tended 
him while he raved in all tongues except his own. 
One day, indeed, he began reciting AtalanUi in 
Calydon, and went through it to the end, beat- 
ing time to the swing of the verse with a bed- 
stead-leg. But he did most of his ravings in 
Greek or German. The man's mind was a per- 
fect rag-bag of useless things. Once, when he 
was beginning to get sober, he told me that I was 
the only rational being in the Inferno into which 
he had descended — a Virgil in the Shades, he 
said — and that, in return for my tobacco, he 
would, before he died, give me the materials of a 
new Inferno that should make me greater than 
Dante. Then he fell asleep on a horse-blanket 
and woke up quite calm. 

"Man," said he, "when you have reached the 
uttermost depths of degradation, little incidents 
which would vex a higher life, are to you of no 
consequence. Last night, my soul was among 
the Gods; but I make no doubt that my bestial 
body was writhing down here in the garbage." 

378 Indian Tales 

"You were abominably drunk if tliat's what 
you mean," I said. 

"I was drunk — filtliiiy drunk. I who am the 
son of a man with whom you have no concern — 
1 who was once Fellow of a College whose but- 
tery-hatch you have not seen. I was loathsomely 
drunk. But consider how lightly 1 am touched. 
It is nothing to me. Less than nothing; fo*" I do 
not even feel the headache which should be my 
portion. Now, in a higher life, hov/ ghastly 
would have been my punishment, how bitter my 
repentance! Believe me my friend with the 
neglected education, the highest is as the lowest 
— always supposing each degree extreme." 

He turned round on the blanket, put his head 
between his fists and continued — 

"On the Sou! which I have lost and on the 
Conscience which I have killed, I tell you that ! 
cannot feel! I am as the Gods, knowing good 
and evil, but untouched by either. Is this en- 
viable or is it not?" 

When a man has lost the warning of " next 
morning's head," he must be in a bad state. I 
answered, looking at Mcintosh on the blanket, 
with his hair over his eyes and his lips blue-white, 
that I did not think the insensibility good enough. 

" For pity's sake, don't say that! I tell you, it 
is good and most enviable. Think of my con- 

To be Filed for Reference 379 

" Have you so many, then, Mcintosh ?" 

" Certainly; your attempts at sarcasm which is 
essentially the weapon of a cultured man, are 
crude. First, my attainments, my classical and 
literary knowledge, blurred, perhaps, by immod- 
erate drinking — which reminds me that before 
my soul went to the Gods last night, 1 sold the 
Pickering Horace you so kindly loaned me. 
Ditta Mull the clothesman has it. It fetched ten 
annas, and may be redeemed for a rupee — but 
still infinitely superior to yours. Secondly, the 
abiding affection of Mrs. Mcintosh, uest of wives. 
Thirdly, a monument, more enduring than brass, 
which 1 have built up in the seven years of my 

He stopped here, and crawled across the room 
for a drink of water. He was very shaky and 

He referred several times to his "treasure" — 
some great possession that he owned — but 1 held 
this to be the raving of drink. He was as poor 
and as proud as he could be. His manner was 
not pleasant, but he knew enough about the na- 
tives, among whom seven years of his life had 
been spent, to make his acquaintance worth hav- 
ing. He used actually to laugh at Strickland as 
an ignorant man — "ignorant West and East" — 
he said. His boast was, first, that he was an 
Oxford Man of rare and shining parts, which 

38o Indian Tales 

may or may not have been true — I did not know 
enough to check his statements — and, secondly, 
that he "had his hand on the pulse of native 
life " — which was a fact. As an Oxford Man, he 
struck me as a prig: he was always throwing his 
education about. As a Mohammedan faquir — 
as Mcintosh Jellaludin — he was all that 1 wanted 
for my own ends. He smoked several pounds 
of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of 
things worth knowing; but he would never ac- 
cept any gifts, not even when the cold weather 
came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the 
poor thin alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and 
said that I had insulted him, and that he was not 
going into hospital. He had lived like a beast 
and he would die rationally, like a man. 

As a matter of fact, he died of pneumonia; and 
on the night of his death sent over a grubby note 
asking me to come and help him to die. 

The native woman was weeping by the side of 
the bed. Mcintosh, wrapped in a cotton cloth, 
was too weak to resent a fur coat being thrown 
over him. He was very active as far as his mind 
was concerned, and his eyes were blazing. 
When he had abused the Doctor who came with 
me, so foully that the indignant old fellow left, 
he cursed me for a few minutes and calmed 

Then he told his wife to fetch out "The Book " 

To be Filed for Reference 38 1 

from a hole in the wall. She brought out a big 
bundle, wrapped in the tail of a petticoat, of old 
sheets of miscellaneous note-paper, all numbered 
and covered with fine cramped writing. Mcin- 
tosh ploughed his hand through the rubbish and 
stirred it up lovingly. 

"This," he said, "is my work — the Book of 
Mcintosh Jellaludin, showing what he saw and 
how he lived, and what befell him and others; 
being also an account of the life and sins and 
death of Mother Maturin. What Mirza Murad 
Ali Beg's book is to all other books on native life, 
will my work be to Mirza Murad Ali Beg's! " 

This, as will be conceded by any one who 
knows Mirza Murad Ali Beg's book, was a sweep- 
ing statement. The papers did not look specially 
valuable; but Mcintosh handled them as if they 
were currency-notes. Then said he slowly — 

" In despite the many weaknesses of your edu- 
cation, you have been good to me. I will speak 
of your tobacco when 1 reach the Gods. 1 owe 
you much thanks for many kindnesses. But I 
abominate indebtedness. For this reason, I be- 
queath to you now the monument more en- 
during than brass — my one book — rude and 
imperfect in parts, but oh how rare in others! I 
wonder if you will understand it. It is a gift 
more honorable than . . . Bah! where is my 
brain rambling to ? You will mutilate it hor- 

382 Indian Tales 

ribly. You will knock out the gems you call 
Latin quotations, you Philistine, and you will 
butcher the style to carve into your own jerky 
jargon; but you cannot destroy the whole of it. 
I bequeath it to you. Ethel . . . My brain 
again! . . . Mrs. Mcintosh, bear witness that 
I give the Sahib all these papers. They would be 
of no use to you. Heart of my Heart; and I lay it 
upon you," he turned to me here, "that you do 
not let my book die in its present form. It is 
yours unconditionally — the story of Mcintosh 
Jellaludin, which is not the story of Mcintosh 
Jellaludin, but of a greater man than he, and of a 
far greater woman. Listen now! I am neither 
mad nor drunk! That book will make you 

1 said, "Thank you," as the native woman put 
the bundle into my arms. 

" My only baby! " said Mcintosh, with a smile. 
He was sinking fast, but he continued to talk as 
long as breath remained. 1 waited for the end; 
knowing that, in six cases out of ten a dying 
man calls for his mother. He turned on his side 
and said — 

"Say how it came into your possession. No 
one will believe you, but my name, at least, will 
live. You will treat it brutally, I know you will. 
Some of it must go; the public are fools and 
prudish fools. 1 was their servant once. But do 

To be Filed for Reference 383 

your mangling gently — very gently. It is a great 
work, and I have paid for it in seven years' dam- 

His voice stopped for ten or twelve breaths, 
and then he began mumbling a prayer of some 
kind in Greek. The native woman cried very 
bitterly. Lastly, he rose in bed and said, as 
loudly as slowly — *'Not guilty, my Lord!" 

Then he fell back, and the stupor held him till 
he died. The native woman ran into the Serai 
among the horses, and screamed and beat her 
breasts; for she had loved him. 

Perhaps his last sentence in life told what 
Mcintosh had once gone through; but, saving 
the big bundle of old sheets in the cloth, there 
was nothing in his room to say who or what he 
had been. 

The papers were in a hopeless muddle. 

Strickland helped me to sort them, and he said 
that the writer was either an extreme liar or a 
most wonderful person. He thought the former. 
One of these days, you may be able to judge 
for yourselves. The bundle needed much ex- 
purgation and was full of Greek nonsense, at 
the head of the chapters, which has all been cut 

If the thing is ever published, some one may 
perhaps remember this story, now printed as 
a safeguard to prove that Mcintosh Jeilaludin 

384 Indian Tale':, 

and not I myself wrote the Book of Mother Ma- 

1 don't want the Gianfs Robe to come true in 
mv case. 


" Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar if he be found 

THE Law, as quoted, lays down a fair con- 
duct of life, and one not easy to follow. I 
have been fellow to a beggar again and again 
under circumstances which prevented either of 
us finding out whether the other was worthy. I 
have still to be brother to a Prince, though I once 
came near to kinship with what might have been 
a veritable King and was promised the reversion 
of a Kingdom — army, law-courts, revenue and 
policy all complete. But, to-day, I greatly fear 
that my King is dead, and if I want a crown 1 
must go and hunt it for myself. 

The beginning of everything was in a railway 
train upon the road to Mhow from Ajmir. There 
had been a Deficit in the Budget, which neces- 
sitated traveling, not Second-class, which is only 
half as dear as First-class, but by Intermediate, 
which is very awful indeed. There are no cush- 
ions in the Intermediate class, and the popula- 
tion are either Intermediate, which is Eurasian, or 
native, which for a long night journey is nasty, 
or Loafer, which is amusing though intoxicated. 

386 Indian Tales 

Intermediates do not patronize refreshment- 
rooms. They carry their food in bundles and 
pots, and buy sweets from the native <= weetmeat- 
sellers, and drink the roadside water. That is 
why in the hot weather Intermediates are taken 
out of the carriages dead, and in all weathers are 
most properly looked down upon. 

My particular Intermediate happened to be 
empty till I reached Nasirabad, when a huge 
gentleman in shirt-sleeves entered, and, follow- 
ing the custom of Intermediates, passed the time 
of day. He was a wanderer and a vagabond like 
myself, but with an educated taste for whiskey. 
He told tales of things he had seen and done, of 
out-of-the-way corners of the Empire into which 
he had penetrated, and of adventures in which 
he risked his life for a few days' food. " If India 
was filled with men like you and me, not know- 
ing more than the crows where they'd get their 
next day's rations, it isn't seventy millions of 
revenue the land would be paying — it's seven 
hundred millions," said he; and as I looked at 
his mouth and chin I was disposed to agree with 
him. We talked politics — the politics of Loafer- 
dom that sees things from the underside where 
the lath and plaster is not smoothed off — and we 
talked postal arrangements because my friend 
wanted to send a telegram back from the next 
station to Ajmir, which is the turning-off place 

The Man Who Would be King 387 

from the Bombay to the Mhow line as you travel 
westward. My friend had no money beyond 
eight annas which he wanted for dinner, and I 
had no money at all, owing to the hitch in the 
Budget before mentioned. Further, I was going 
into a wilderness where, though I should resume 
touch with the Treasury, there were no telegraph 
offices. I was, therefore, unable to help him in 
any way. 

"We might threaten a Station-master, and 
make him send a wire on tick," said my friend, 
"but that'd mean inquiries for you and for me, 
and I've got my hands full these days. Did you 
say you are traveling back along this line within 
any days ? " 

"Within ten," I said. 

"Can't you make it eight?" said he. "Mine 
is rather urgent business." 

"I can send your telegram within ten days if 
that will serve you," I said. 

"I couldn't trust the wire to fetch him now I 
think of it. It's this way. He leaves Delhi on 
the 23d for Bombay. That means he'll be run- 
ning through Ajmir about the night of the 23d." 

" But I'm going into the Indian Desert," I ex- 

" Well and good," said he. " You'll be chang- 
ing at Marwar Junction to get into Jodhpore ter- 
ritory — you must do that — and he'll be coming 

388 Indian Tales 

through Marwar Junction in the early morning of 
the 24th by the Bombay Mail, Can you be at 
Marwar Junction on that time ? Twon't be in- 
conveniencing you because 1 know that there's 
precious few pickings to be got out of these 
Central India States — even though you pretend 
to be correspondent of the Backwoodsman." 

" Have you ever tried that trick?" I asked. 

"Again and again, but the Residents find you 
out, and then you get escorted to the Border be- 
fore you've time to get your knife into them. 
But about my friend here. I must give him a 
word o' mouth to tell him what's come to me or 
else he won't know where to go. 1 would take 
it more than kind of you if you was to come out 
of Central India in time to catch him at Marwar 
Junction, and say to him: — 'He has gone South 
for the week.' He'll know what that means. 
He's a big man with a red beard, and a great 
swell he is. You'll find him sleeping like a 
gentleman with all his luggage round him in a 
Second-class compartment. But don't you be 
afraid. Slip down the window, and say: — 'He 
has gone South for the week,' and he'll tumble. 
It's only cutting your time of stay in those parts 
by two days. I ask you as a stranger — going to 
the West," he said, with emphasis. 

"Where havejw^ come from.^" said I. 

**From the East," said he, "and I am hoping 

The Man Who Would be King 389 

that you will give him the message on the Square 
— for the sake of my Mother as well as your 

Englishmen are not usually softened by ap- 
peals to the memory of their mothers, but for 
certain reasons, which will be fully apparent, 1 
saw fit to agree. 

"It's more than a little matter," said he, "and 
that's why 1 ask you to do it— and now I know 
that I can depend on you doing it. A Second- 
class carriage at Marwar Junction, and a red- 
haired man asleep in it. You'll be sure to re- 
member. 1 get out at the next station, and I 
must hold on there till he comes or sends me 
what 1 want." 

"I'll give the message if 1 catch him," I said, 
"and for the sake of your Mother as well as 
mine I'll give you a word of advice. Don't try 
to run the Central India States just now as the 
correspondent of the Backwoodsman, There's a 
real one knocking about here, and it might lead 
to trouble." 

" Thank you," said he, simply, "and when v^ill 
the swine be gone ? I can't starve because he's 
ruining my work. I wanted to get hold of the 
Degumber Rajah down here about his father's 
widow, and give him a jump." 

"What did he do to his father's widow 
*hen ? " 

390 Indian Tales 

"Filled her up with red pepper and slippered 
her to death as she hung from a beam. I found 
that out myself and I'm the only man that v/ould 
dare going into the State to get hush-money for 
it. They'll try to poison me, same as they did 
in Chortumna when 1 went on the loot there. 
But you'll give the man at Marwar Junction my 
message ? " 

He got out at a little roadside station, and 1 re- 
flected. I had heard, more than once, of men 
personating correspondents of newspapers and 
bleeding small Native States with threats of 
exposure, but 1 had never met any of the caste 
before. They lead a hard life, and generally die 
with great suddenness. The Native States have 
a wholesome horror of English newspapers, 
which may throw light on their peculiar 
methods of government, and do their best to 
choke correspondents with champagne, or drive 
them out of their mind with four-in-hand 
barouches. They do not understand that no- 
body cares a straw for the internal administration 
of Native States so long as oppression and crime 
are kept within decent limits, and the ruler is not 
drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the 
year to the other. Native States were created by 
Providence in order to supply picturesque scenery, 
tigers, and tall-writing. They are the dark places 
of the earth, full of unimaginable cruelty, touch- 

The Man Who Would be King 391 

ing the Railway and the Telegraph on one side, 
and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid. 
When I left the train I did business with divers 
Kings, and in eight days passed through many 
changes of life. Sometimes 1 wore dress-clothes 
and consorted with Princes and Politicals, drinking 
from crystal and eating from silver. Sometimes 
I lay out upon the ground and devoured what I 
could get, from a plate made of a flapjack, and 
drank the running water, and slept under the 
same rug as my servant. It was all in the day's 

Then I headed for the Great Indian Desert upon 
the proper date, as I had promised, and the night 
Mail set me down at Marwar Junction, where a 
funny little, happy-go-lucky, native-managed 
railway runs to Jodhpore. The Bombay Mail 
from Delhi makes a short halt at Marwar. She 
arrived as I got in, and 1 had just time to hurry 
to her platform and go down the carriages. 
There was only one Second-class jn the train. I 
slipped the window and looked down upon a 
flaming red beard, half covered by a railway rug. 
That was my man, fast asleep, and I dug him 
gently in the ribs. He woke with a grunt and I 
saw his face in the light of the lamps. It was a 
great and shining face. 

"Tickets again?" said he. 

"No," said I. "I am to tell you that he is 

392 Indian Tales 

gone South for the week. He is gone South for 
the week! " 

The train had begun to move out. The red 
man rubbed his eyes. " He has gone South for 
the week," he repeated. "Now that's just Hke 
his impidence. Did he say that I was to give 
you anything? — 'Cause I won't." 

"He didn't," I said, and dropped away, and 
watched the red lights die out in the dark. It 
was horribly cold because the wind was: bio ./ing 
off the sands. I climbed into my own train — not 
an Intermediate Carriage this time — and went to 

If the man with the beard had given me a 
rupee I should have kept it as a memento of a 
rather curious affair. But the consciousness of 
having done my duty was my only reward. 

Later on I reflected that two gentlemen like my 
friends could not do any good if they foregath- 
ered and personated correspondents of news- 
papers, and might, if they "stuck up" one of 
the little rat-trap states of Central India or South- 
ern Rajputana, get themselves into serious diffi- 
culties. I therefore took some trouble to de- 
scribe them as accurately as I could remember 
to people who would be interested in deporting 
them: and succeeded, so I was later informed, 
in having them headed back from the Degumbei 

The Man Who Would be King 393 

Then I became respectable, and returned to an 
Office where there were no Kings and no in- 
cidents except the daily manufacture of a news- 
paper. A newspaper office seems to attract every 
conceivable sort of person, to the prejudice of 
discipline. Zenana-mission ladies arrive, and beg 
that the Editor will instantly abandon all his 
duties to describe a Christian prize-giving in a 
back-slum of a perfectly inaccessible village; 
Colonels who have been overpassed for com- 
mands sit down and sketch the outline of a series 
of ten, twelve, or twenty-four leading articles on 
Seniority versus Selection ; missionaries wish to 
know why they have not been permitted to 
escape from their regular vehicles of abuse and 
swear at a brother-missionary under special pat- 
ronage of the editorial We; stranded theatrical 
companies troop up to explain that they cannot 
pay for their advertisements, but on their return 
from New Zealand or Tahiti will do so with 
interest; inventors of patent punkah-pulling 
machines, carriage couplings and unbreakable 
swords and axle-trees call with specifications in 
their pockets and hours at their disposal; tea- 
companies enter and elaborate their prospectuses 
with the office pens; secretaries of ball-commit- 
tees clamor to have the glories of their last dance 
more fully expounded; strange ladies rustle in 
and say: — " 1 want a hundred lady's cards printed 

394 Indian Tales 

at once, please," which is manifestly part of an 
Editor's duty; and every dissolute ruffian that 
ever tramped the Grand Trunk Road makes it his 
business to ask for employment as a proof- 
reader. And, all the time, the telephone-bell is 
ringing madly, and Kings are being killed on the 
Continent, and Empires are saying — "You're an- 
other," and Mister Gladstone is calling down 
brimstone upon the British Dominions, and the 
little black copy-boys are whining, " kaa-pi chay- 
ha-yeh" (copy wanted) like tired bees, and most 
of the paper is as blank as Modred's shield. 

But that is the amusing part of the year. 
There are other six months wherein none evei' 
come to call, and the thermometer walks inch by 
inch up to the top of the glass, and the office is 
darkened to just above reading-light, and the 
press machines are red-hot of touch, and nobody 
writes anything but accounts of amusements in 
the Hill-stations or obituary notices. Then the 
telephone becomes a tinkling terror, because it 
tells you of the sudden deaths of men and 
women that you knew intimately, and the 
prickly-heat covers you as with a garment, and 
you sit down and write: — "A slight increase of 
sickness is reported from the Khuda Janta Khan 
District. The outbreak is purely sporadic in its 
nature, and, thanks to the energetic efforts of the 
District authorities, is now almost at an end. It 

The Man Who Would be King 395 

is, however, with deep regret we record the 
death, etc." 

Then the sickness really breaks out, and the 
less recording and reporting the better for the 
peace of the subscribers. But the Empires and 
the Kings continue to divert themselves as sel- 
fishly as before, and the Foreman thinks that a 
daily paper really ought to come out once in 
twenty-four hours, and all the people at the 
Hill-stations in the middle of their amusements 
say : — ' ' Good gracious ! Why can't the paper be 
sparkling.^ I'm sure there's plenty going on up 

That is the dark half of the moon, and, as the 
advertisements say, "must be experienced to be 

It was in that season, and a remarkably evil 
season, that the paper began running the last 
issue of the week on Saturday night, which is to 
say Sunday morning, after the custom of a 
London paper. This was a great convenience, 
for immediately after the paper was put to bed, 
the dawn would lower the thermometer from 
96° to almost 84° for half an hour, and in that 
chill — you have no idea how ccld is 84° on the 
grass until you begin to pray for it — a very tired 
man could set off to sleep ere the heat roused 

One Saturday night it was my pleasant duty to 

^q6 tnuiun I Ui^S 

put the paper to bed alone. A King or courtier 
or a courtesan or a community was going to die 
or get a new Constitution, or do something that 
was important on the other side of the world, 
and the paper was to be held open till the latest 
possible minute in order to catch the telegram. 
It was a pitchy black night, as stifling as a June 
night can be, and the loo, the red-hot wind from 
the westward, was booming among the tinder- 
dry trees and pretending that the rain was on its 
heels. Now and again a spot of almost boiling 
water would fall on the dust with the flop of a 
frog, but all our weary world knew that was 
only pretence. It was a shade cooler in the 
press-room than the office, so I sat there, while 
the type ticked and clicked, and the night-jars 
hooted at the windows, and the all but naked 
compositors wiped the sweat from their fore- 
heads and called for water. The thing that was 
keeping us back, whatever it was, would not 
come off, though the loo dropped and the last 
type was set, and the whole round earth stood 
still in the choking heat, with its finger on its 
lip, to wait the event. 1 drowsed, and wondered 
whether the telegraph was a blessing, and 
whether this dying man, or struggling people, 
was aware of the inconvenience the delay was 
causing. There was no special reason beyond 
the heat and worry to make tension, but, as the 

The Man Who Would be King 397 

clock hands crept up to three o'clock and the 
machines spun their fly-wheels two and three 
times to see that all was in order, before I said 
the word that would set them off, 1 could have 
shrieked aloud. 

Then the roar and rattle of the wheels shivered 
the quiet into little bits. 1 rose to go away, but 
tv/o men in white clothes stood in front of me. 
The first one said: — "It's him!" The second 
said: — "So it is!" And they both laughed 
almost as loudly as the machinery roared, and 
mopped their foreheads, " We see there was a 
light burning across the road and we were sleep- 
ing in that ditch there for coolness, and I said to 
my friend here, The office is open. Let's come 
along and speak to him as turned us back from 
the Degumber State," said the smaller of the 
two. He was the man I had met in the Mhow 
train, and his fellow was the red-bearded man of 
Marwar Junction. There was no mistaking 
the eyebrows of the one or the beard of the 

I was not pleased, because 1 wished to go to 
sleep, not to squabble with loafers. " What do 
you want ? " I asked. 

" Half an hour's talk with you cool and com- 
fortable, in the office," said the red-bearded man. 
"We'd like some drink — the Conirack doesn't 
begin yet, Peachey, so you needn't look — but 

398 Indian Tales 

what we really want is advice. We don't want 
money. We ask you as a favor, because you did 
us a bad turn about Degumber." 

I led from the press-room to the stifling office 
with the maps on the walls, and the red-haired 
man rubbed his hands. "That's something 
like," said he. "This was the proper shop to 
come to. Now, Sir, let me introduce to you 
Brother Peachey Carnehan, that's him, and 
Brother Daniel Dravot, that is me, and the less 
said about our professions the better, for we have 
been most things in our time. Soldier, sailor, 
compositor, photographer, proof-reader, street- 
preacher, and correspondents of the Backwoods- 
man when we thought the paper wanted one. 
Carnehan is sober, and so am I. Look at us first 
and see that's sure. It will save you cutting into 
my talk. We'll take one of your cigars apiece, 
and you shall see us light." 

I watched the test. The men were absolutely 
sober, so I gave them each a tepid peg. 

"Well and good," said Carnehan of the eye- 
brows, wiping the froth from his moustache. 
" Let me talk now, Dan. We have been all over 
India, mostly on foot. We have been boiler- 
fitters, engine-drivers, petty contractors, and all 
that, and we have decided that India isn't big 
enough for such as us." 

They certainly were too big for the office. 

The Man Who Would be King 399 

Dravot's beard seemed to fill half the room 
and Carnehan's shoulders the other half, as they 
sat on the big table. Carnehan continued: — 
"The country isn't half worked out because they 
that governs it won't let you touch it. They 
spend all their blessed time in governing it, and 
you can't lift a spade, nor chip a rock, nor look 
for oil, nor anything like that without all the 
Government saying — ' Leave it alone and let us 
govern.' Therefore, such as it is, we will let it 
alone, and go away to some other place where a 
man isn't crowded and can come to his own. 
We are not little men, and there is nothing that 
we are afraid of except Drink, and we have 
signed a Contrack on that. Therefore, we are 
going away to be Kings." 

" Kings in our own right," muttered Dravot. 

"Yes, of course," I said. "You've been 
tramping in the sun, and it's a very warm night, 
and hadn't you better sleep over the notion .? 
Come to-morrow." 

"Neither drunk nor sunstruck," said Dravot. 
" We have slept over the notion half a year, and 
require to see Books and Atlases, and we have 
decided that there is only cne place now in the 
world that two strong men can S-AX-Si-whach. 
They call it Kafiristan. By my reckoning it's the 
top right-hand corner of Afghanistan, not more 
than three hundred miles from Peshawur. They 

400 Indian Tales 

have two and thirty heathen idols there, and 
we'll be the thirty-third. It's a mountaineous 
country, and the women of those parts are very 

" But that is provided against in the Contrack,'^ 
said Carnehan. "Neither Women nor Liqu-or, 

"And that's all we know, except that no one 
has gone there, and they fight, and in any place 
where they fight a man who knows how to drill 
men can always be a King. We shall go to 
those parts and say to any King we find — * D' 
you want to vanquish your foes.^' and we will 
show him how to drill men; for that we know 
better than anything else. Then we will subvert 
that King and seize his Throne and establish a 

"You'll be cut to pieces before you're fifty 
miles across the Border," I said. "You have to 
travel through Afghanistan to get to that coun- 
try. It's one mass of mountains and peaks and 
glaciers, and no Englishman has been through 
it. The people are utter brutes, and even if you 
reached them you couldn't do anything." 

"That's more like," said Carnehan. " If you 
could think us a little more mad we would be 
more pleased. We have come to you to know 
about this country, to read a book about it, and 
to be shown maps. We want you to tell us that 

The Man Who Would be King 401 

we are fools and to show us your books." He 
turned to the bookcases. 

" Are you at all in earnest } " I said. 

"A little," said Dravot, sweetly. "As big a 
map as you have got, even if it's all blank where 
Kafiristan is, and any books you've got. We 
can read, though we aren't very educated." 

I uncased the big thirty-two-miles-to-the-inch 
map of India, and two smaller Frontier maps, 
hauled dov/n volume INF-KAN of the EuLyclo- 
pccdia Brittanica, and the men consulted them. 

"See here!" said Dravot, his thumb on the 
map, " Up to Jagdallak, Peachey and me know 
the road. We was there with Roberts's Army. 
We'll have to turn off to the right at Jagdallak 
through Laghmann territory. Then we get 
among the hills — fourteen thousand feet — fifteen 
thousand — it will be cold work there, but it don't 
look very far on the map." 

1 handed him Wood on the Sources of the 
Oxus. Carnehan was deep in the Eucyclopcvdia. 

"They're a mixed lot," said Dravot, reflec- 
tively; "and it won't help us to know the names 
of their tribes. The more tribes the more they'll 
fight, and the better for us. From Jagdallak to 
Ashang. H'mm!" 

"But all the information about the country is 
as sketchy and inaccurate as can be," I protested. 
"No one knows anything about it really. Here's 

402 Indian Tales 

the file of the United Services' Institute. Read 
what Bellew says." 

"Blow Bellew!" said Carnehan. "Dan, 
they're an all-fired lot of heathens, but this book 
here says they think they're related to us English." 

I smoked while the men pored over Raverty, 
Wood, the maps and the Encyclopcedia. 

"There is no use your waiting," said Dravot, 
politely. "It's about four o'clock now. We'll 
go before six o'clock if you want to sleep, and 
we won't steal any of the papers. Don't you 
sit up. We're two harmless lunatics, and if you 
come, to-morrow evening, down to the Serai 
we'll say good-bye to you." 

"You are two fools," I answered. "You'll 
be turned back at the Frontier or cut up the min- 
ute you set foot in Afghanistan. Do you want 
any money or a recommendation down-country.^ 
1 ';an help you to the chance of work next week." 

" Next week we shall be hard at work our- 
selves, thank you," said Dravot. "It isn't so 
easy being a King as it looks. When we've got 
our Kingdom in going order we'll let you know, 
and you can come up and help us to govern it." 

"Would two lunatics make a Contrack like 
that?" said Carnehan, with subdued pride, 
showing me a greasy half-sheet of note-paper 
on which was written the following. I copied 
it, then and there, as a curiosity: 

The Man Who Would be King 403 

This Contract between me and you persuing 
wttnesseth in the name of God — Amen and so 

{One) That me and you will settle this matter 
together : i. e., to be Kings of Kafir- 
{Two) That you and me will not, while this 
matter is beir.g rrttled, look at any 
Liquor, nor any Woman, black, white 
or brown, so as to g. t mixed up with 
one or the other harmful. 
( Three) That we conduct ourselves with dignity 
and discretion, and if one of its gets 
into trouble the other will stay by 
Signed by you and me this day. 

Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan. 

Daniel Dravot. 

Both Gentlemen at Large. 

"There was no need for the last article," said 
Carnehan, blushing modestly; " but it looks reg- 
ular. Now you know the sort of men that loaf- 
ers are — we are loafers, Dan, until we get out of 
India — and do you think that we would sign a 
Contrack like that unless we was in earnest ? 
We have kept away from the two things that 
make life worth having." 

" You won't enjoy your lives much longer if 

404 Indian Tales 

you are going to try this idiotic adventure. Don't 
set the office on fire," 1 said, "and go away be- 
fore nine o'clock." 

I left them still poring over the maps and 
making notes on the back of the "Contrack." 
" Be sure to come down to the Serai to-morrow," 
were their parting words. 

The Kumharsen Serai is the great four-square 
sink of humanity where the strings of camels 
and horses from the North load and unload. All 
the nationalities of Central Asia may be found 
there, and most of the folk of India proper. 
Balkh and Bokhara there meet Bengal and Bom- 
bay, and try to draw eye-teeth. You can buy 
ponies, turquoises, Persian pussy-cats, saddle- 
bags, fat-tailed sheep and musk in the Kum- 
harsen Serai, and get many strange things for 
nothing. In the afternoon I went down there to 
see whether my friends intended to keep their 
word or were lying about drunk. 

A priest attired in fragments of ribbons and 
rags stalked up to me, gravely twisting a child's 
paper whirligig. Behind him was his servant 
bending under the load of a crate of mud toys. 
The two were loading up two camels, and the 
inhabitants of the Serai watched them with 
shrieks of laughter. 

"The priest is mad," said a horse-dealer to me. 
" He is going up to Kabul to sell toys to the Amir. 

The Man Who Would be King 405 

He will either be raised to honor or have his head 
cut off. He came in here this morning and has 
been behaving madly ever since." 

" The witless are under the protection of God," 
stammered a flat-cheeked Usbeg in broken Hindi. 
"They foretell future events." 

" Would they could have foretold that my car- 
avan would have been cut up by the Shinwaris 
almost within shadow of the Pass!" grunted the 
Eusufzai agent of a Rajputana trading-house 
whose goods had been feloniously diverted into 
the hands of other robbers just across the Border, 
and whose misfortunes were the laughing-stock 
of the bazar. " Ohe, priest, whence come you 
and whither do you go.^" 

" From Roum have I come," shouted the priest, 
waving his whirligig; "from Roum, blown by 
the breath of a hundred devils across the sea! 
O thieves, robbers, liars, the blessing of Pir 
Khan on pigs, dogs, and perjurers! Who will 
take the Protected of God to the North to sell 
charms that are never still to the Amir.? The 
camels shall not gall, the sons shall not fall sick, 
and the wives shall remain faithful while they 
are away, of the men who give me place in their 
caravan. Who will assist me to slipper the King 
of the Roos with a golden slipper with a silver 
heel.? The protection of Pir Khan be upon his 
labors!" He spread out the skirts of his gaber- 

4o6 Indian Tales 

dine and pirouetted between the lines of tethered 

"There starts a caravan from Peshawur to 
Kab'jl in twenty days, Hu{riit," said the Eusufzai 
trader. " My camels go therewith. Do thou also 
go and bring us good-luck." 

"1 will go even now!"' shouted the priest. 
"I will depart upon my winged camels, and be 
at Pashawur in a day! Hoi Hazar Mir Khan," 
he yelled to his servant, "drive out the camels, 
but let me first mount my own." 

He leaped on the back of his beast as it knelt, 
and, turning round to me, cried: — "Come thou 
also, Sahib, a little along the road, and I will sell 
thee a charm — an amulet that shall make thee 
King of Kafiristan." 

Then the light broke upon me, and I followed 
the two camels out of the Serai till we reached 
open road and the priest halted. 

"What d' you think o' that?" said he in 
English. "Carnehan can't talk their patter, so 
I've made him my servant. He makes a hand- 
some servant. 'Tisn't for nothing that I've been 
knocking about the country for fourteen years. 
Didn't 1 do that talk neat? We'll hitch on to 
a caravan at Peshawur till we get to Jagdallak, 
and then we'll see if we can get donkeys for 
our camels, and strike into Kafiristan. Whirl- 
igigs for the Amir, O Lor! Put your hand 

The Man Who Would be King 407 

under the camel-bags and tell me what you 

1 felt the butt of a Martini, and another and 

"Twenty of 'em," said Dravot, placidly. 
"Twenty of 'em, and ammunition to correspond, 
under the whirligigs and the mud dolls." 

" Heaven help you if you are caught with 
those things!" 1 said. "A Martini is worth her 
weight in silver among the Pathans." 

"Fifteen hundred rupees of capital — every ru- 
pee we could beg, borrow, or steal — are invested 
on these two camels," said Dravot. "We won't 
get caught. We're going through the Khaiber 
with a regular caravan. Who'd touch a poor 
mad priest } " 

" Have you got everything you want ? " I asked, 
overcome with astonishment. 

"Not yet, but we shall soon. Give us a me- 
mento of your kindness. Brother. You did me 
a service yesterday, and that time in Marwar. 
Half my Kingdom shall you have, as the saying 
is." I slipped a small charm compass from my 
watch-chain and handed it up to the priest. 

"Good-bye," said Dravot, giving me hand 
cautiously. " It's the last time we'll shake hands 
with an Englishman these many days. Shake 
hands with him, Carnehan," he cried, as the sec- 
ond camel passed me. 

4o8 Indian Tales 

Carnehan leaned down and shook hands. Then 
the camels passed away along the dusty road; 
and I was left alone to wonder. My eye could 
detect no failure in the disguises. The scene in 
Serai attested that they were complete to the 
native mind. There was just the chance, there- 
fore, that Carnehan and Dravot would be able to 
wander through Afghanistan without detection. 
But, beyond, they would find death, certain and 
awful death. 

Ten days later a native friend of mine, giving 
me the news of the day from Peshawur, wound 
up his letter with: — "There has been much laugh- 
ter here on account of a certain mad priest who 
is going in his estimation to sell petty gauds and 
insignificant trinkets which he ascribes as great 
charms to H. H. the Amir of Bokhara. He passed 
through Peshawur and associated himself to the 
Second Summer caravan that goes to Kabul. The 
merchants are pleased because through supersti- 
tion they imagine that such mad fellows bring 

The two, then, were beyond the Border. I 
would have prayed for them, but, that night, a 
real King died in Europe, and demanded on obit- 
uary notice. 

The wheel of the world swings through the 

The Man Who Would be King 409 

same phases again and again. Summer passed 
and winter thereafter, and came and passed 
again. The daily paper continued and I with it, 
and upon the third summer there fell a hot night, 
a night-issue, and a strained waiting for some- 
thing to be telegraphed from the other side of the 
world, exactly as had happened before. A few 
great men had died in the past two years, the 
machines worked with more clatter, and some of 
the trees in the Office garden were a few feet 
taller. But that was all the difference. 

I passed over to the press-room, and went 
through just such a scene as I have already de- 
scribed. The nervous tension was stronger than 
it had been two years before, and I felt the heat 
more acutely. At three o'clock I cried, "Print 
off," and turned to go, when there crept to my 
chair what was left of a man. He was bent into 
a circle, his head was sunk between his shoul- 
ders, and he moved his feet one over the other 
like a bear. I could hardly see whether he 
walked or crawled — this rag-wrapped, whining 
cripple who addressed me by name, crying that 
he was come back. "Can you give me a drink .^" 
he whimpered. " For the Lord's sake, give me a 
drink! " 

I went back to the office, the man following 
with groans of pain, and I turned up the lamp. 

"Don't you know me ?" he gasped, dropping 

410 Indian Tales 

into a chair, and he turned his drawn face, 
surmounted by a shock of grey hair, to the 

I looked at him intently. Once before had I 
seen eyebrows that met over the nose in an inch- 
broad black band, but for the life of me 1 could 
not tell where. 

"1 don't know you," 1 said, handing him the 
whiskey. " What can I do for you ? " 

He took a gulp of the spirit raw, and shivered 
in spite of the suffocating heat. 

"I've come back," he repeated; "and I was 
the King of Kafiristan — me and Dravot — crowned 
Kings we was! In this office we settled it — you 
setting there and giving us the books. I am 
Peachey — Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan, and 
you've been setting here ever since — O Lord!" 

I was more than a little astonished, and ex- 
pressed my feelings accordingly. 

"It's true," said Carnehan, with a dry cackle, 
nursing his feet, which were wrapped in rags. 
"True as gospel. Kings we were, with crowns 
upon our heads — me and Dravot — poor Dan — oh, 
poor, poor Dan, that would never take advice, 
not though I begged of him! " 

"Take the whiskey," 1 said, "and take your 
own time. Tell me all you can recollect of 
everything from beginning to end. You got 
across the border on your camels, Dravot dressed 

The Man Who Would be King ^n 

as a mad priest and you his servant. Do you re- 
member that?" 

"I ain't mad — yet, but I shall be that way soon. 
Of course I remember. Keep looking at me, or 
maybe my words will go all to pieces. Keep 
lool^ing at me in my eyes and don't say anything." 

I leaned forward and looked into his face as 
steadily as I could. He dropped one hand upon 
the table and I grasped it by the wrist. It was 
twisted like a bird's claw, and upon the back 
was a ragged, red, diamond-shaped scar. 

"No, don't look there. Look at me," said 

"That comes afterward, but for the Lord's 
sake don't distrack me. We left with that cara- 
van, me and Dravot playing all sorts of antics to 
amuse the people we were with. Dravot used 
to make us laugh in the evenings when all the 
people was cooking their dinners — cooking their 
dinners, and . . . what did they do then .? 
They lit little fires with sparks that went into 
Dravot's beard, and we all laughed — fit to die. 
Little red fires they was, going into Dravot's big 
red beard — so funny." His eyes left mine and 
he smiled foolishly. 

"You went as far as Jagdallak with that 
caravan," I said, at a venture, " after you had lit 
those fires. To Jagdallah, where you turned off 
to try to get into Kafiristan." 

412 Indian Tales 

"No, we didn't neither. What are you talk- 
ing about ? We turned off before Jagdallak, be- 
cause we heard the roads was good. But they 
wasn't good enough for our two camels — mine 
and Dravot's. When we left the caravan, Dravot 
took off all his clothes and mine too, and said we 
would be heathen, because the Kafirs didn't 
allow Mohammedans to talk to them. So we 
dressed betwixt and between, and such a sight 
as Daniel Dravot I never saw yet nor expect to 
see again. He burned half his beard, and slung 
a sheep-skin over his shoulder, and shaved his 
head into patterns. He shaved mine, too, and 
made me wear outrageous things to look like a 
heathen. That was in a most mountaineous 
country, and our camels couldn't go along any 
more because of the mountains. They were tall 
and black, and coming home 1 saw them fight 
like wild goats — there are lots of goats in Kafir- 
istan. And these mountains, they never keep 
still, no more than the goats. Always fighting 
they are, and don't let you sleep at night." 

"Take some more whiskey," I said, very 
slowly. " What did you and Daniel Dravot do 
when the camels could go no further because of 
the rough roads that led into Kafiristan ?" 

"What did which do.^ There was a party 
called Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan that was with 
Dravot. Shall I tell you about him .? He died 

The Man Who Would be King 413 

out there in the cold. Slap from the bridge fell 
old Peachey, turning and twisting in the air like 
a penny whirligig that you can sell to the Amir. 
— No; they was two for three ha'pence, those 
whirligigs, or 1 am much mistal<.en and woful 
sore. And then these camels were no use, and 
Peachey said to Dravot — ' For the Lord's sake, 
let's get out of this before our heads are chopped 
off,' and with that they killed the camels all 
among the mountains, not having anything in 
particular to eat, but first they took off the boxes 
with the guns and the ammunition, till two men 
came along driving four mules. Dravot up and 
dances in front of them, singing, — * Sell me four 
Mules.' Says the first man, — ' If you are rich 
enough to buy, you are rich enough to rob; ' but 
before ever he could put his hand to his knife, 
Dravot breaks his neck over his knee, and the 
other party runs away. So Carnehan loaded the 
mules with the rifles that was taken off the 
camels, and together we starts forward into 
those bitter cold mountaineous parts, and never a 
road broader than the back of your hand." 

He paused for a moment, while 1 asked him if 
he could remember the nature of the country 
through which he had journeyed. 

" ] am telling you as straight as 1 can, but my 
head isn't as good as it might be. They drove 
nails through it to make me hear better how 

414 Indian Tales 

Dravot died. The country was mountaineous 
and the mules were most contrary, and the inhab- 
itants was dispersed and solitary. They went up 
and up, and down and down, and that other 
party, Carnehan, was imploring of Dravot not to 
sing and whistle so loud, for fear of bringing 
down the tremenjus avalanches. But Dravot says 
that if a King couldn't sing it wasn't worth being 
King, and whacked the mules over the rump, and 
never took no heed for ten cold days. We came 
to a big level valley all among the mountains, and 
the mules were near dead, so we killed them, not 
having anything in special for them or us to eat. 
We sat upon the boxes, and played odd and even 
with the cartridges that was jolted out. 

"Then ten men with bows and arrows ran 
down that valley, chasing twenty men with bows 
and arrows, and the row was tremenjus. They 
was fair men — fairer than you or me — with 
yellow hair and remarkable well built. Says 
Dravot, unpacking the guns — ' This is the begin- 
ning of the business. We'll fight for the ten 
men,' and with that he fires two rifles at the 
twenty men, and drops one of them at two 
hundred yards from the rock where we was sit- 
ting. The other men began to run, but Carnehan 
and Dravot sits on the boxes picking them off at 
all ranges, up and down the valley. Then we 
goes up to the ten men that had run across the 

The Man Who Would be King .j^ 

snow too, and they fires a footy little arrow at 
us. Dravot he shoots above their heads and 
they all falls down flat. Then he walks over 
them and kicks them, and then he lifts them up 
and shakes hands all round to make them friendly 
like. He calls them and gives them the boxes to 
carry, and waves his hand for all the world as 
though he was King already. They takes the 
boxes and him across the valley and up the hill 
into a pine wood on the top, where there was 
half a dozen big stone idols. Dravot he goes to 
the biggest — a fellow they call Imbra — and lays 
a rifle and a cartridge at his feet, rubbing his nose 
respectful with his own nose, patting him on the 
head, and saluting in front of it. He turns round 
to the men and nods his head, and says, — * That's 
all right. I'm in the know too, and all these old 
jim-jams are my friends.' Then he opens his 
mouth and points down it, and when the first 
man brings him food, he says — ' No; ' and when 
the second man brings him food, he says — 'No;' 
but when one of the old priests and the boss of 
the village brings him food, he says — 'Yes;' 
very haughty, and eats it slow. That was how 
we came to our first village, without any trouble, 
just as though we had tumbled from the skies. 
But we tumbled from one of those damned rope- 
bridges, you see, and you couldn't expect a man 
to laugh much after that." 

4i6 Indian Tales 

"Take some more whiskey and go on," I said. 
''That was the first village you came into. How 
did you get to be King ? " 

"1 wasn't King," said Carnehan. "Dravot he 
was the King, and a handsome man he looked 
with the gold crown on his head and all. Him 
and the other party stayed in that village, and 
every morning Dravot sat by the side of old 
Imbra, and the people came and worshipped. 
That was Dravot's order. Then a lot of men 
came into the valley, and Carnehan and Dravot 
picks them off with the rifles before they knew 
where they was, and runs down into the valley 
and up again the other side, and finds another 
village, same as the first one, and the people all 
falls down flat on their faces, and Dravot says, — 
' Now what is the trouble between you two vil- 
lages?' and the people points to a woman, as 
fair as you or me, that was carried off, and 
Dravot takes her back to the first village and 
counts up the dead — eight there was. For each 
dead man Dravot pours a little milk on the 
ground and waves his arms like a whirligig 
and 'That's all right,' says he. Then he and 
Carnehan takes the big boss of each village by 
the arm and walks them down into the valley, 
and shows them how to scratch a line with a 
spear right down the valley, and gives each a sod 
of turf from both sides o' the line. Then all the 

The Man Who Would be King 417 

people comes down and shouts like the devil and 
all, and Dravot says, — ' Go and dig the land, and 
be fruitful and multiply,' which they did, though 
they didn't understand. Then we asks the 
names of things in their lingo — bread and water 
and fire and idols and such, and Dravot leads the 
priest of each village up to the idol, and says he 
must sit there and judge the people, and if any- 
thing goes wrong he is to be shot. 

"Next week they was all turning up the land 
in the valley as quiet as bees and much prettier, 
and the priests heard all the complaints and told 
Dravot in dumb show what it was about. 
' That's just the beginning,' says Dravot. ' They 
think we're Gods.' He and Carnehan picks out 
twenty good men and shows them how to click 
off a rifle, and form fours, and advance in line, 
and they was very pleased to do so, and clever 
to see the hang of it. Then he takes out his pipe 
and his baccy-pouch and leaves one at one village 
and one at the other, and off we two goes to see 
what was to be done in the next valley. That 
was all rock, and there was a little village there, 
and Carnehan says, — 'Send 'em to the old valley 
to plant,' and takes 'em there and gives 'em some 
land that wasn't took before. They were a poor 
lot, and we blooded 'em with a kid before let- 
ting 'em into the new Kingdom. That was to 
impress the people, and then they settled down 

4i8 Indian Tales 

quiet, and Camehan went back to Dravot who 
had got into another valley, all snow and ice and 
most mountaineous. There was no people there 
and the Army got afraid, so Dravot shoots one of 
them, and goes on till he finds some people in a 
village, and the Army explains that unless the 
people wants to be killed they had better not 
shoot their little matchlocks; for they had match- 
locks. We makes friends with the priest and I 
stays there alone with two of the Army, teaching 
the men how to drill, and a thundering big Chief 
comes across the snow with kettle-drums and 
horns twanging, because he heard there was a 
new God kicking about. Carnehan sights for 
the brown of the men half a mile across the 
snow and wings one of them. Then he sends a 
message to the Chief that, unless he wished to be 
killed, he must come and shake hands with me 
and leave his arms behind. The chief comes 
alone first, and Carnehan shakes hands with him 
and whirls his arms about, same as Dravot used, 
and very much surprised that Chief was, and 
strokes my eyebrows. Then Carnehan goes 
alone to the Chief, and asks him in dumb show 
if he had an enemy he hated. ' I have,' says the 
Chief. So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his 
men, and sets the two of the Army to show 
them drill and at the end of two weeks the men 
can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. Sc 

The Man Who Would be King 419 

he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on 
the top of a mountain, and the Chief's men 
rushes into a village and takes it; we three 
Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy. So 
we took that village too, and I gives the Chief a 
rag from my coat and says, ' Occupy till I come: ' 
which was scriptural. By way of a reminder, 
when me and the Army was eighteen hundred 
yards away, I drops a bullet near him standing 
on the snow, and all the people falls flat on their 
faces. Then I sends a letter to Dravot, wherever 
he be by land or by sea." 

At the risk of throwing the creature out of 
train I interrupted, — "How could you write a 
letter up yonder.^" 

"The letter ?— Oh .'—The letter! Keep look- 
ing at me between the eyes, please, it was a 
string-talk letter, that we'd learned the way of it 
from a blind beggar in the Punjab." 

I remember that there had once come to the 
office a blind man with a knotted twig and a 
piece of string which he wound round the twig 
according to some cypher of his own. He could, 
after the lapse of days or hours, repeat the sen- 
tence which he had reeled up. He had reduced 
the alphabet to eleven primitive sounds; and tried 
to teach me his method, but failed. 

"I sent that letter to Dravot," said Carnehan; 
"and told him to come back because this King- 

420 Indian Tales 

dom was growing too big for me to handle, and 
then 1 struck for the first valley, to see how the 
priests were working. They called the village 
we took along with the Chief, Bashkai, and the 
first village we took, Er-Heb, The priests at Er- 
Heb was doing all right, but they had a lot of 
pending cases about land to show me, and some 
men from another village had been firing arrows 
at night. I went out and looked for that village 
and fired four rounds at it from a thousand yards. 
That used all the cartridges I cared to spend, 
and ,1 waited for Dravot, who had been away 
two or three months, and I kept my people 

"One morning 1 heard the devil's own noise 
of drums and horns, and Dan Dravot marches 
down the hill with his Army and a tail of hun- 
dreds of men, and, which was the most amazing 
— a great gold crown on his head. ' My Gord, 
Carnehan,' says Daniel, 'this is a tremenjus 
business, and we've got the whole country as 
far as it's worth having. I am the son of 
Alexander by Queen Semiramis, and you're my 
younger brother and a God too! It's the biggest 
thing we've ever seen. I've been marching and 
fighting for six weeks with the Army, and every 
footy little village for fifty miles has come in 
rejoiceful; and more than that, I've got the key 
of the whole show, as you'll see, and I've got a 

The Man Who Would be King 421 

crown for you! I told 'em to make two of 'em 
at a place called Shu, where the gold lies in the 
rock like suet in mutton. Gold I've seen, and 
turquoise I've kicked out of the cliffs, and there's 
garnets in the sands of the river, and here's a 
chunk of amber that a man brought me. Call up 
all the priests and, here, take your crown.' 

"One of the men opens a black hair bag and I 
slips the crown on. It was too small and too 
heavy, but 1 wore it for the glory. Hammered 
gold it was — five pound weight, like a hoop of a 

" ' Peachey,' says Dravot, 'we don't want to 
fight no more. The Craft's the trick so help me! ' 
and he brings forward that same Chief that I left 
at Bashkai — Billy Fish we called him afterward, 
because he was so like Billy Fish that drove the 
big tank-engine at Mach on the Bolan in the old 
days. ' Shake hands with him,' says Dravot, and 
1 shook hands and nearly dropped, for Billy Fish 
gave me the Grip. 1 said nothing, but tried him 
with the Fellow Craft Grip. He answers, all 
right, and 1 tried the Master's Grip, but that was 
a slip. 'A Fellow Craft he is!' I says to Dan. 
'Does he know the word.^' 'He does,' says 
Dan, 'and all the priests know. It's a miracle! 
The Chiefs and the priests can work a Fellow 
Craft Lodge in a way that's very like ours, and 
they've cut the marks on the rocks, but they 

422 Indian Tales 

don't know the Third Degree, and they've come 
to find out. It's Gord's Truth. I've known these 
long years that the Afghans knew up to the 
Fellow Craft Degree, but this is a miracle. A 
God and a Grand-Master of the Craft am 1, and a 
Lodge in the Third Degree 1 will open, and we'll 
raise the head priests and the Chiefs of the vil- 

" 'It's against all the law,' I says, 'holding a 
Lodge without warrant from any one; and we 
never held office in any Lodge.' 

'"It's a master-stroke of policy,' says Dravot. 
'It means running the country as easy as a four- 
wheeled bogy on a down grade. We can't stop 
to inquire now, or they'll turn against us. I've 
forty Chiefs at my heel, and passed and raised 
according to their merit they shall be. Billet 
these men on the villages and see that we run up 
a Lodge of some kind. The temple of Imbra 
will do for the Lodge-room. The women must 
make aprons as you show them. I'll hold a 
levee of Chiefs to-night and Lodge to-morrow.' 

" I was fair run off my legs, but I wasn't such 
a fool as not to see what a pull this Craft busi- 
ness gave us. I showed the priests' families 
how to make aprons of the degrees, but for 
Dravot's apron the blue border and marks was 
made of turquoise lumps on white hide, not 
Cloth. We took a great square stone in the tem- 

The Man Who Would be King 423 

pie for the Master's chair, and little stones for 
the officers' chairs, and painted the black pave- 
ment with white squares, and did what we could 
to make things regular. 

"At the levee which was held that night on 
the hillside with big bonfires, Dravot gives out 
that him and me were Gods and sons of Alex- 
ander, and Past Grand-Masters in the Craft, and 
was come to make Kafiristah a country where 
every man should eat in peace and drink in quiet, 
and specially obey us. Then the Chiefs come 
round to shake hands, and they was so hairy 
and white and fair it was just shaking hands with 
old friends. We gave them names according as 
they was like men we had known in India — Billy 
Fish, Holly Dilworth, Pikky Kergan that was 
Bazar-master when I was at Mhow, and so on 
and so on. 

" The most amazing miracle was at Lodge next 
night. One of the old priests was watching us 
continuous, and 1 felt uneasy, for I knew we'd 
have to fudge the Ritual, and I didn't know what 
the men knew. The old priest was a stranger 
come in from beyond the village of Bashkai. 
The minute Dravot puts on the Master's apron 
that the girls had made for him, the priest fetches 
a whoop and a howl, and tries to overturn the 
stone that Dravot was sitting on. 'It's all up 
now,' 1 says. ' That comes of meddling with the 

424 Indian Tales 

Craft without warrant!' Dravot never winked 
an eye, not when ten priests took and tilted over 
the Grand-Master's chair — which was to say the 
stone of Imbra. The priest begins rubbing the 
bottom end of it to clear away the black dirt, 
and presently he shows all the other priests the 
Master's Mark, same as was on Dravot's apron, 
cut into the stone. Not even the priests of the 
temple of Imbra knew it was there. The old 
chap falls flat on his face at Dravot's feet and 
kisses 'em. 'Luck again,' says Dravot, across the 
Lodge to me, 'they say it's the missing Mark 
that no one could understand the why of. We're 
more than safe now.' Then he bangs the butt 
of his gun for a gavel and says: — ' By virtue of 
the authority vested in me by my own right hand 
and the help of Peachey, I declare myself Grand- 
Master of all Freemasonry in Kafiristan in this the 
Mother Lodge o' the country, and King of Kafir- 
istan equally with Peachey! ' At that he puts on 
his crown and I puts on mine — I was doing Senior 
Warden — and we opens the Lodge in most ample 
form. It was a amazing miracle! The priests 
moved in Lodge through the first two degrees 
almost without telling, as if the memory was 
coming back to them. After that, Peachey and 
Dravot raised such as was worthy — high priests 
and Chiefs of far-off villages. Billy Fish was the 
first, and I can tell you we scared the soul out of 

The Man Who Would be King 425 

him. It was not in any way accoiding to Ritual, 
but it served our turn. We didn't raise more 
than ten of the biggest men because we didn't 
want to mai<e the Degree common. And they 
was clamoring to be raised. 

" ' In another six months,' says Dravot, ' we'll 
hold another Communication and see how you 
are working.' Then he asks them about their 
villages, and learns that they was fighting one 
against the other and were fair sick and tired of 
it. And when they wasn't doing that they was 
fighting with the Mohammedans. ' You can fight 
those when they come into our country,' says 
Dravot. ' Tell off every tenth man of your tribes 
for a Frontier guard, and send two hundred at a 
time to this valley to be drilled. Nobody is going 
to be shot or speared any more so long as he does 
well, and I know that you won't cheat me be- 
cause you're white people — sons of Alexander — 
and not like common, black Mohammedans. You 
are my people and by God,' says he, running off 
into English at the end — ' I'll make a damned fine 
Nation of you, or I'll die in the making! ' 

" I can't tell all we did for the next six months 
because Dravot did a lot 1 couldn't see the hang 
of, and he learned their lingo in a way I never 
could. My work was to help the people plough, 
and now and again go out with some of the 
Army and see what the other villages were doing. 

426 Indian Tales 

and make 'em throw rope-bridges across the ra- 
vines which cut up the country horrid. Dravot 
was very kind to me, but when he walked up 
and down in the pine wood pulling that bloody 
red beard of his with both fists I knevv^ he was 
thinking plans I could not advise him about, and 
I just waited for orders. 

" But Dravot never showed me disrespect be- 
fore the people. They were afraid of me and the 
Army, but they loved Dan. He was the best of 
friends with the priests and the Chiefs; but any 
one could come across the hills with a complaint 
and Dravot would hear him out fair, and call 
four priests together and say what was to be 
done. He used to call in Billy Fish from Bashkai, 
and Pikky Kergan from Shu, and an old Chief 
we called Kafuzelum — it was like enough to his 
real name — and hold councils with 'em when 
there was any fighting to be done in small vil- 
lages. That was his Council of War, and the 
four priests of Bashkai, Shu, Khawak, and Ma- 
dora was his Privy Council. Between the lot of 
'em they sent me, with forty men and twenty 
rifles, and sixty men carrying turquoises, into the 
Ghorband country to buy those hand-made Mar- 
tini rifles, that come out of the Amir's workshops 
at Kabul, from one of the Amir's Herati regi- 
ments that would have sold the very teeth out of 
their mouths for turquoises. 

The Man Who Would be King 427 

"I stayed in Ghorband a month, and gave the 
Governor there the pick of my basl<ets for hush- 
money, and bribed the Colonel of the regiment 
some more, and, between the two and the tribes- 
people, we got more than a hundred hand-made 
Martinis, a hundred good Kohat Jezails that'll 
throw to six hundred yards, and forty man-loads 
of very bad ammunition for the rifles. I came 
back with what I had, and distributed 'em among 
the men that the Chiefs sent to me to drill. 
Dravot was too busy to attend to those things, 
but the old Army that we first made helped me, 
and we turned out five hundred men that could 
drill, and two hundred that knew how to hold 
arms pretty straight. Even those cork-screwed, 
hand-made guns was a miracle to them. Dravot 
talked big about powder-shops and factories, 
walking up and down in the pine wood when 
the winter was coming on. 

*" I won't make a Nation, ' says he. ' I'll make 
an Empire! These men aren't niggers; they're 
English! Look at their eyes — look at their 
mouths. Look at the way they stand up. They 
sit on chairs in their own houses. They're the 
Lost Tribes, or something like it, and they've 
grown to be English. I'll take a census in the 
spring if the priests don't get frightened. There 
must be a fair two million of 'em in these hills. 
The villages are full 0' little children. Two mil- 

428 Indian Tales 

lion people — two hundred and fifty thousand 
fighting men — and all English! They only want 
the rifles and a little drilling. Two hundred and 
fifty thousand men, ready to cut in on Russia's 
right flank when she tries for India! Peachey, 
man/ he says, chewing his beard in great hunks, 
'we shall be Emperors — Emperors of the Earth! 
Rajah Brooke will be a suckling to us. I'll treat 
with the Viceroy on equal terms. I'll ask him to 
send me twelve picked English — twelve that I 
know of — to help us govern a bit. There's 
Mackray, Sergeant-pensioner at Segowli — many's 
the good dinner he's given me, and his wife a 
pair of trousers. There's Donkin, the Warder of 
Tounghoo Jail; there's hundreds that I could lay 
my hand on if I was in India. The Viceroy shall 
do it for me. I'll send a man through in the 
spring for those men, and I'll write for a dispen- 
sation from the Grand Lodge for what I've done 
as Grand-Master. That— and all the Sniders 
that'll be thrown out when the native troops in 
India take up the Martini. They'll be worn 
smooth, but they'll do for fighting in these hills. 
Twelve English, a hundred thousand Sniders run 
through the Amir's country in driblets — I'd be 
content with twenty thousand in one year — and 
we'd be an Empire, When everything was 
shipshape, I'd hand over the crown — this crown 
I'm wearing now — to Queen Victoria on my 

The Man Who Would be King 429 

knees, and she'd say: "Rise up, Sir Daniel 
Dravot." Oh, it's big! It's big, I tell you! But 
there's so much to be done in every place — 
Bashkai, Khawak. Shu, and everywhere else.' 

"'What is it?' I says. 'There are no more 
men coming in to be drilled this autumn. Look 
at those fat, black clouds. They're bringing the 

" 'It isn't that,' says Daniel, putting his hand 
very hard on my shoulder; 'and I don't wish to 
say anything that's against you, for no other liv- 
ing man would have followed me and made me 
what I am as you have done. You're a first-class 
Commander-in-Chief, and the people know you; 
but — it's a big country, and somehow you can't 
help me, Peachey, in the way I want to be 

"'Go to your blasted priests, then!' I said, 
and I was sorry when 1 made that remark, but it 
did hurt me sore to find Daniel talking so supe- 
rior when I'd drilled all the men, and done all he 
told me. 

"'Don't let's quarrel, Peachey,' says Daniel, 
without cursing. ' You're a King too, and the 
half of this Kingdom is yours; but can't you see, 
Peachey, we want cleverer men than us now — 
three or four of 'em, that we can scatter about 
for our Deputies. It's a hugeous great State, and 

can't always tell the right thing to do, and I 

430 Indian Tales 

haven't time for all I want to do, and here's the 
winter coming on and all.' He put half his beard 
into his mouth, and it was as red as the gold of 
his crown. 

"'I'm sorry, Daniel,' says I. '/'ve done all I 
could. I've drilled the men and shown the 
people how to stack their oats better; and I've 
brought in those tinware rifles from Ghorband — 
but 1 know what you're driving at. I take it 
Kings always feel oppressed that way.' 

"'There's another thing too,' says Dravot, 
walking up and down. ' The winter's coming 
and these people won't be giving much trouble, 
and if they do we can't move about. I want a 

"'For Gord's sake leave the women alone!' 
I says. ' We've both got all the work we can, 
though I am a fool. Remember the Contrack, 
and keep clear o' women.' 

'• 'The Contrack only lasted till such time as 
we was Kings; and Kings we have been these 
months past,' says Dravot, weighing his crown 
in his hand. ' You go get a wife too, Peachey — 
a nice, strappin', plump girl that'll keep you 
warm in the winter. They're prettier than 
English girls, and we can take the pick of 'em. 
Boil 'em once or twice in hot water, and they'll 
come as fair as chicken and ham.' 

" ' Don't tempt me! ' I says. ' I will not have 

The Man Who Would be King 43 1 

any dealings with a woman not till we are a 
dam' side more settled than we are now. I've 
been doing the work 0' two men, and you've 
been doing the work o' three. Let's lie off a bit, 
and see if we can get some better tobacco from 
Afghan country and run in some good liquor; 
but no women.' 

" ' Who's talking 0' women ? ' says Dravot. ' I 
said wife — a Queen to breed a King's son for the 
King, A Queen out of the strongest tribe, that'll 
make them your blood-brothers, and that'll lie by 
your side and tell you all the people thinks about 
you and their own affairs. That's what 1 want.' 

" ' Do you remember that Bengali woman I 
kept at Mogul Serai when I was a plate-layer.?' 
says 1. ' A fat lot 0' good she was to me. She 
taught me the lingo and one or two other things; 
but what happened ? She ran away with the 
Station Master's servant and half my month's 
pay. Then she turned up at Dadur Junction in 
tow of a half-caste, and had the impidence to 
say I was her husband — all among the drivers ir. 
the running-shed! ' 

"'We've done with that,' says Dravot. 
'These women are whiter than you or me, and 
a Queen I will have for the winter months.' 

" 'For the last time o' asking, Dan, do not,' I 
says. ' It'll only bring us harm. The Bible say!, 
that Kings ain't to waste their strength on 

432 Indian Tales 

women, 'specially when mey've got a new raw 
Kingdom to work over.' 

" ' For tlie last time of answering 1 will,' said 
Dravot, and he went away through the pine-trees 
looking like a big red devil. The low sun hit 
his crown and beard on one side and the two 
blazed like hot coals. 

"But getting a wife was not as easy as Dan 
thought. He put it before the Council, and there 
was no answer till Billy Fish said that he'd better 
ask the girls. Dravot damned them all round. 
'What's wrong with me.?' he shouts, standing 
by the idol Imbra. ' Am I a dog or am 1 not 
enough of a man for your wenches .? Haven't I 
put the shadow of my hand over this country } 
Who stopped the last Afghan raid.?' It was me 
really, but Dravot was too angry to remember. 
'Who brought your guns.? Who repaired the 
bridges .? Who's the Grand-Master of the sign 
cut in the stone?' and he thumped his hand on 
the block that he used to sit on in Lodge, and at 
Council, which opened like Lodge always. Billy 
Fish said nothing and no more did the others. 
'Keep your hair on, Dan,' said I; 'and ask the 
girls. That's how it's done at Home, and these 
people are quite English.' 

'"The marriage of the King is a matter of 
State,' says Dan, in a white-hot rage, for he 
could feel, I hope, that he was going against his 

The Man Who Would be King 433 

better mind. He walked out of the Council- 
room, and the others sat still, looking at the 

" 'Billy Fish,' says 1 to the Chief of Bashkai, 
' what's the difficulty here .^ A straight answer 
to a true friend.' 'You know,' says Billy Fish. 
'How should a man tell you who know every- 
thing } How can daughters of men marry Gods 
or Devils.? It's not proper.' 

"I remembered something like that in the 
Bible; but if, after seeing us as long as they had, 
they still believed we were Gods, it wasn't for 
me to undeceive them. 

"'A God can do anything,' says I. 'If the 
King is fond of a girl he'll not let her die.' 
'She'll have to,' said Billy Fish. 'There are all 
sorts of Gods and Devils in these mountains, and 
now and again a girl marries one of them and 
isn't seen any more. Besides, you two know 
the Mark cut in the stone. Only the Gods know 
that. We thought you were men till you 
showed the sign of the Master.' 

" I wished then that we had explained about 
the loss of the genuine secrets of a Master-Mason 
at the first go-off; but I said nothing. All that 
night there was a blowing of horns in a little 
dark temple half-way down the hill, and I heard 
a girl crying fit to die. One of the priests told us 
that she was being prepared to marry the Kiiig. 

434 Indian Talei, 

"Til have no nonsense of that kind,' says 
Dan, ' I don't want to interfere with your cus- 
toms, but I'll take my own wife.' 'The girl's a 
little bit afraid,' says the priest, 'She thinks 
she's going to die, and they are a-heartening of 
her up down in the temple.' 

" * Hearten her very tender, then,' says Dravot, 
'or I'll n^arten you with the butt of a gun so 
that you'll never want to be heartened again.' 
He lick d hi^ lips, did Dan, and stayed up walk- 
ing about more than half the night, thinking of 
th3 v/ifc that he was going to get in the morn- 
ing, I '.vpsn't any means comfortable, for I 
knew that dealings with a woman in foreign 
parts, though you was a crowned King twenty 
time:, ^ver, could not but be risky. I got up 
very early in the morning while Dravot was 
asleep, and I saw the priests talking together in 
whispers, and the Chiefs talking together too, 
and they looked at m: out of the corners of their 

"'What is up, Fish,?' I says to the Bashkai 
man, who was wrapped up in his furs and look- 
ing splendid to behold, 

" ' I can't rightly say,' says he; ' but if you can 
induce the King to drop all this nonsense about 
marriage, you'll be doing him and me and your- 
self a great service,' 

"'That I do believe,' says I, 'But sure, you 

The Man Who Would be King 435 

know, Billy, as well as me, having fought against 
and for us, that the King and me are nothing 
more than two of the finest men that God Al- 
mighty ever made. Nothing more, 1 do assure 

"'That may be,' says Billy Fish, 'and yet I 
should be sorry if it was.' He sinks his head 
upon his great fur cloak for a minute and thinks. 
'King,' says he, 'be you man ^r God or Devil, 
I'll stick by you to-day. 1 have twenty of my 
men with me, and they will follow me. We'll 
go to Bashkai until the storm blows over.' 

"A little snow had fallen in the night, and 
everything was white except the greasy fat 
clouds that blew down and down from the north. 
Dravot came out with his crown on his head, 
swinging his arms and stamping his feet, and 
looking more pleased than Punch. 

" ' For the last time, drop it, Dan,' says I, in a 
whisper. ' Billy Fish here says that there will be 
a row.' 

"'A row among my people!' says Dravot. 
'Not much. Peachey, you're a fool not to get a 
wife too. Where's the girl } ' says he, with a 
voice as loud as the braying of a jackass. ' Call 
up all the Chiefs and priests, and let the Emperor 
see if his wife suits him.' 

"There was no need to call anyone. They 
were all there leaning on their guns and spears 

43^ Indian Tales 

round the clearing in the centre of the pine wood. 
A deputation of priests went down to the little 
temple to bring up the girl, and the horns blew 
up tit to wake the dead. Billy Fish saunters 
round and gets as close to Daniel as he could, 
and behind him stood his twenty men with 
matchlocks. Not a man of them under six feet. 
I was next to Dravot, and behind me was twenty 
men of the regular Army. Up comes the girl, 
and n strapping wench she was, covered with 
silver and turquoises but white as death, and 
looking back every minute at the priests. 

'"She'll do,' said Dan, looking her over. 
'What's to be afraid of, lass? Come and kiss 
me.' He puts his arm round her. She shuts her 
eyes, gives a bit of a squeak, and down goes her 
face in the side of Dan's flaming red beard. 

" 'The slut's bitten me! ' says he, clapping his 
hand to his neck, and, sure enough, his hand was 
red with blood. Billy Fish and two of his match- 
lock-men catches hold of Dan by the shoulders 
and drags him into the Bashkai lot, while the 
priests howls in their lingo, — 'Meither God nor 
Devil but a man!' I was all taken aback, for a 
priest cut at me in front, and the Army behind 
began firing into the Bashkai men. 

'"God A-mighty!' says Dan. 'What is the 
meaning o' this ?' 

" 'Come back! Come away! ' says Billy Fish. 

The Man 14^ ho Would be King 437 

' Ruin and Mutiny is the matter. We'll break for 
Bashkai if we can.' 

"I tried to give some sort of orders to my 
men — the men o' the regular Army — but it was 
no use, so ! fired into the brown of 'em with an 
English Martini and drilled three beggars in a 
line. The valley was f'.ll .f shouting, howling 
creatures, and every soul was shrieking, ' Not a 
God nor a Devil but nly r. man! ' The Bashkai 
troops stuc'' to Billy Fish all they were worth, 
but their matchlocks wasn't half as good as the 
Kabul breech-load -fs, and four of them dropped. 
Dan was bellowing 1' a bull, for he was very 
wrathy; and Billy Fis' had a hard job to prevent 
him running out at the crowd. 

" 'We can't stand,' says Billy Fish. 'Make a 
run for it down the valley! The whole place is 
against us.' The matchlock-men ran, and we 
went down the valley in spite of Dravofs prot- 
estations. He was swearing horribly and cry- 
ing out that he was a King. The priests rolled 
great stones on us, and the regular Army fired 
hard, and there wasn't more than six men, not 
counting Dan, Billy Fish, and Me, that came down 
to the bottom of the valley alive. 

"Then they stopped firing and the horns in 
the temple blew again. ' Come away — for Cord's 
sake come away!' says Billy Fish. 'They'll 
send runners out to all the villages before ever 

438 Indian Tales 

we get to Bashkai. I can protect you there, but 
I can't do anything now.' 

" My own notion is that Dan began to go mad 
in his head from that hour. He stared up* and 
down Hke a stuck pig. Then he was all for 
walking back alone and killing the priests with 
his bare hands; which he could have done. ' An 
Emperor am 1,' says Daniel, * and next year I shall 
be a Knight of the Queen.' 

"'AH right, Dan,' says I; 'but come along 
now while there's time.' 

"'It's your fault,' says he, 'for not looking 
after your Army better. There was mutiny in 
the midst, and you didn't know — you damned 
engine-driving, plate-laying, missionary 's-pass- 
hunting hound!' He sat upon a rock and called 
me every foul name he could lay tongue to. I 
was too heart-sick to care, though it was all his 
foolishness that brought the smash. 

" ' I'm sorry, Dan,' says I, 'but there's no ac- 
counting for natives. This business is our Fifty- 
Seven. Maybe we'll make something out of it 
yet, when we've got to Bashkai.' 

'* ' Let's get to Bashkai, then,' says Dan, 'and, 
by God, when I come back here again I'll sweep 
the valley so there isn't a bug in a blanket left! ' 

"We walked all that day, and all that night 
Dan was stumping up and down on the snow, 
chewing his beard and muttering to himself. 

The Man Who Would be King 43^ 

" 'There's no hope o' getting clear,' said Billy 
Fish. ' The priests will have sent runners to the 
villages to say that you are only men. Why 
didn't you stick on as Gods till things was more 
settled.!^ I'm a dead man,' says Billy Fish, and 
he throws himself down on the snow and begins 
to pray to his Gods. 

"Next morning we was in a cruel bad country 
— all up and down, no level ground at ail, and no 
food either. The six Bashkai men looked at 
Billy Fish hungry-wise as if they wanted to ask 
something, but they said never a word. At 
noon we came to the top of a flat mountain all 
covered with snow, and when we climbed up 
into it, behold, there was an Army in position 
waiting in the middle! 

"'The runners have been very quick,' says 
Billy Fish, with a little bit of a laugh. ' They are 
waiting for us.' 

"Three or four men began to fire from the 
enemy's side, and a chance shot took Daniel in 
the calf of the leg. That brought him to his 
senses. He looks across the snow at the Army, 
and sees the rifles that v/e had brought into the 

" 'We're done for,' says he. 'They are Eng- 
lishmen, these people, — and it's my blasted non- 
sense that has brought you to this. Get back, 
Billy Fish, and take your men away; you've 

440 Indian Tales 

done what you could, and now cut for it. Car- 
nehan,' says he, 'shake hands with me and go 
along with Billy. Maybe they won't kill you. 
I'll go and meet 'em alone. It's me that did it. 
Me, the King! ' 

"'Go!' says I. 'Goto Hell, Dan. I'm with 
you here. Billy Fish, you clear out, and we two 
will meet those folk.' 

" ' I'm ii Chief,' says Billy Fish, quite quiet. ' I 
stay with you. My men can go.' 

"The Bashkai fellows didn't wait for a second 
word but ran off, and Dan and Me and Billy Fish 
walked across to where the drums were drum- 
ming and the horns were horning. It was cold 
— awful cold. I've got that cold in the back of 
my head now. There's a lump of it there," 

The punknh-coolies had gone to sleep. Two 
kerosene lamps were blazing in the office, and 
the perspiration poured down my face and 
splashed on the blotter as I leaned forward. 
Carnehan was shivering, and I feared that his 
mind might go. I wiped my face, took a fresh 
grip of the piteously mangled hands, and said: — 
" What happened after that } " 

The momentary shift of my eyes had broken 
the clear current. 

"What was you pleased to say.?" whined 
Carnehan. "They took them without any 
sound. Not a little whisper all along the snow. 

The Man Who Would be King 441 

not though the King knocked down the first 
man that set hand on him — not though old 
Peachey fired his last cartridge into the brown of 
'em. Not a single solitary sound did those 
swines make. They just closed up tight, and 1 
tell you their furs stunk. There was a man 
called Billy Fish, a good friend of us all, and 
they cut his throat, Sir, then and there, like a 
pig; and the King kicks up the bloody snow and 
says: — 'We've had a dashed fine run for our 
money. What's coming next.^' But Peachey, 
Peachey Taliaferro, I tell you. Sir, in confidence 
as betwixt two friends, he lost his head. Sir. 
No, he didn't neither. The King lost his head, 
so he did, all along o' one of those cunning rope- 
bridges. Kindly let me have the paper-cutter, 
Sir. It tilted this way. They marched him a 
mile across that snow to a rope-bridge over a 
ravine with a river at the bottom. You may 
have seen such. They prodded him behind like 
an ox. 'Damn your eyes!' says the King. 
'D'you suppose I can't die like a gentleman?' 
He turns to Peachey — Peachey that was crying 
like a child. ' I've brought you to this, Peachey,' 
says he. ' Brought you out of your happy life 
to be killed in Kafiristan, where you was late 
Commander-in-Chief of the Emperor's forces. 
Say you forgive me, Peachey.' 'I do,' says 
Peachey. ' Fully and freely do 1 forgive you, 

442 Indian Tales 

Dan.' 'Shake hands, Peachey,' says he. 'I'm 
going now.' Out he goes, looking neither right 
nor left, and when he was plumb in the middle 
of those dizzy dancing ropes, ' Cut, you beg- 
gars,' he shouts; and they cut, and old Dan fell, 
turning round and round and round twenty 
thousand miles, for he took half an hour to fall 
till he struck the water, and 1 could see his 
body caught on a rock with the gold crown close 

" But do you know what they did to Peachey 
between two pine trees.? They crucified him, 
Sir, as Peachey's hand will show. They used 
wooden pegs for his hands and his feet; and he 
didn't die. He hung there and screamed, and 
they took him down next day, and said it was a 
miracle that he wasn't dead. They took him 
down — poor old Peachey that hadn't done them 
any harm — that hadn't done them any. . . ." 

He rocked to and fro and wept bitterly, 
wiping his eyes with the back of his scarred 
hands and moaning like a child for som.e ten 

"They was cruel enough to feed him up in the 
temple, because they said he was more of a God 
than old Daniel that was a man. Then they 
turned him out on the snow, and told him to go 
home, and Peachey came home in about a year, 
begging along the roads quite safe: for Daniel 

The Man Who Would be King 443 

Dravot he walked before and said: — 'Come 
along, Peachey. it's a big thing we're doing.' 
The mountains they danced at night, and the 
mountains they tried to fall on Peachey's head, 
but Dan he held up his hand, and Peachey came 
along bent double. He never let go of Dan's 
hand, and he never let go of Dan's head. They 
gave it to him as a present in the temple, to 
remind him not to come again, and though the 
crown was pure gold, and Peachey was starving, 
never would Peachey sell the same. You knew 
Dravot, Sir! You knew Right Worshipful Brother 
Dravot! Look at him now! " 

He fumbled in the mass of rags round his bent 
waist; brought out a black horsehair bag em- 
broidered with silver thread; and shook there- 
from on to my table — the dried, withered head 
of Daniel Dravot! The morning sun that had 
long been paling the lamps struck the red beard 
and blind sunken eyes; struck, too, a heavy 
circlet of gold studded with raw turquoises, that 
Carnehan placed tenderly on the battered tem- 

"You behold now," said Carnehan, "the 
Emperor in his habit as he lived — the King of 
Kafiristan with his crown upon his head. Poor 
old Daniel that was a monarch once! " 

I shuddered, for, in spite of defacements mani- 
fold, I recognized the head of the man of Mar- 

444 Indian Tales 

war Junction. Carnehan rose to go. I attempted 
to stop him. He was not fit to walk abroad. 
" Let me take away the whiskey, and give me a 
little money," he gasped. "1 was a King once. 
I'll go to the Deputy Commissioner and ask to set 
in the Poorhouse till I get my health. No, thank 
you, I can't wait till you get a carriage for me. 
I've urgent private affairs — in the south — at Mar- 
war. " 

He shambled out of the office and departed in 
the direction of the Deputy Commissioner's 
house. That day at noon I had occasion to go 
down the blinding hot Mall, and I saw a crooked 
man crawling along the white dust of the road- 
side, his hat in his hand, quavering dolorously; 
after the fashion of street-singers at Home. 
There was not a soul in sight, and he was out of 
all possible earshot of the houses. And he sang 
through his nose, turning his head from right to 

" The Son of Man goes forth to war, 
A golden crown to gain ; 
His blood-red banner streams afar — 
Who follows in his train ? " 

I waited to hear no more, but put the poor 
wretch into my carriage and drove him off to the 
nearest missionary for eventual transfer to the 
Asylum. He repeated the hymn twice while he 
was with me whom he did not in the least 

The Man Who Would be King 445 

recognize, and I left him singing it to the mis- 

Two days later I inquired after his welfare of 
the Superintendent of the Asylum. 

" He was admitted suffering from sunstroke. 
He died early yesterday morning," said the 
Superintendent. " Is it true that he was half an 
hour bareheaded in the sun at midday ? " 

" Yes," said I, " but do you happen to know if 
he had anything upon him by any chance when 
he died?" 

"Not to my knowledge," said the Superin- 

And there the matter rests. 


If I can attain Heaven for a pice, why should you be envious? 

— Opium Smoker's Proverb. 

THIS is no work of mine. My friend, Gabral 
Misquitta, the half-caste, spoke it all, be- 
tween moonset and morning, six weeks before 
he died; and I took it down from his mouth as 
he answered my questions. So: 

It lies between the Coppersmith's Gully and 
the pipe-stem sellers' quarter, within a hundred 
yards, too, as the crow flies, of the Mosque of 
Wazir Khan. 1 don't mind telling any one this 
much, but I defy him to find the Gate, however 
well he may think he knows the City. You 
might even go through the very gully it stands 
in a hundred times, and be none the wiser. We 
used to call the gully, " The Gully of the Black 
Smoke," but its native name is altogether differ- 
ent of course. A loaded donkey couldn't pass 
between the walls; and, at one point, just before 
you reach the Gate, a bulged house-front makes 
people go along all sideways. 

It isn't really a gate though. It's a house. Old 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows ^j 

Fung-Tching had it first five years ago. He was 
a boot-maker in Calcutta. Tiiey say that he 
murdered his wife there when he was drunk. 
That was why he dropped bazar-rum and took 
to the Black Smoke instead. Later on, he came 
up north and opened the Gate as a house where 
you could get your smoke in peace and quiet. 
Mind you, it was a pukka, respectable opium- 
house, and not one of those stifling, sweltering 
chandoo-khaiias, that you can find all over the 
City. No; the old man knew his business thor- 
oughly, and he was most clean for a Chinaman. 
He was a one-eyed little chap, not much more 
than five feet high, and both his middle fingers 
were gone. All the same, he was the handiest 
man at rolling black pills 1 have ever seen. Never 
seemed to be touched by the Smoke, either; and 
what he took day and night, night and day, was 
a caution. I've been at it five years, and I can 
do my fair share of the Smoke with any one; but 
1 was a child to Fung-Tching that way. All the 
same, the old man was keen on his money: very 
keen; and that's what I can't understand. I 
heard he saved a good deal before he died, but 
his nephew has got all that now; and the old 
man's gone back to China to be buried. 

He kept the big upper room, where his best 
customers gathered, as neat as a new pin. In 
one corner used to stand Fung-Tching's Joss — 

448 Indian Tales 

almost as ugly as Fung-Tching — and there were 
always sticks burning under his nose; but you 
never smelled 'em when the pipes were going 
thick. Opposite the Joss was Fung-Tching's 
coffin. He had spent a good deal of his savings 
on that, and whenever a new man came to the 
Gate he was always introduced to it. It was 
lacquered black, with red and gold writings on 
it, and I've heard that Fung-Tching brought it 
out all the way from China. I don't know 
whether that's true or not, but I know that, if I 
came first in the evening, I used to spread my mat 
just at the foot of it. It was a quiet corner, you 
see, and a sort of breeze from the gully came in 
at the window now and then. Besides the mats, 
there was no other furniture in the room — only 
the coffin, and the old Joss all green and blue 
and purple with age and polish. 

Fung-Tching never told us why he called the 
place "The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows." (He 
was the only Chinaman I know who used bad- 
sounding fancy names. Most of them are flow- 
ery. As you'll see in Calcutta.) We used to 
find that out for ourselves. Nothing grows on 
you so much, if you're white, as the Black 
Smoke. A yellow man is made different. 
Opiurn doesn't tell on him scarcely at all; 
but white and black suffer a good deal. Of 
course, there are some people that the Smoke 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows 449 

doesn't touch any more than tobacco would at 
first. They just doze a bit, as one would fall 
asleep naturally, and next morning they are al- 
most fit for work. Now, 1 was one of that sort 
when I began, but I've been at it for five years 
pretty steadily, and it's different now. There 
was an old aunt of mine, down Agra way, and 
she left me a little at her death. About sixty 
rupees a month secured. Sixty isn't much. I 
can recollect a time, 'seems hundreds and hun- 
dreds of years ago, that I was getting my three 
hundred a month, and pickings, when I was 
working on a big timber-contract in Calcutta. 

I didn't stick to that work for long. The Black 
Smoke does not allow of much other business; 
and even though I am very little affected by it, as 
men go 1 couldn't do a day's work now to save 
my life. After all, sixty rupees is what I want. 
When old Fung-Tching was alive he used to 
draw the money for me, give me about half of it 
to live on (1 eat very little), and the rest he kept 
himself. 1 was free of the Gate at any time of 
the day and night, and could smoke and sleep 
there when 1 liked, so I didn't care. 1 know the 
old man made a good thing out of it; but that's 
no matter. Nothing matters much to me; and 
besides, the money always came fresh and fresh 
each month. 

There was ten of us met at the Gate when the 

450 Indian Tales 

place was first opened. Me, and two Baboos 
from a Government Office somewhere in Anar- 
kulli, but they got the sack and couldn't pay (no 
man who has to work in the daylight can do the 
Black Smoke for any length of time straight on) ; 
a Chinaman that was Fung-Tching's nephew; a 
bazar-woman that had got a lot of money some- 
how; an English loafer — Mac-Somebody I think, 
but I have forgotten, — that smoked heaps, but 
never seemed to pay anything (they said he had 
saved Fung-Tching's life at some trial in Calcutta 
when he was a barrister) ; another Eurasian, like 
myself, from Madras; a half-caste woman, and a 
couple of men who said they had come from the 
North. I think they must have been Persians or 
Afghans or something. There are not more than 
five of us living now, but we come regular. 1 
don't know what happened to the Baboos; but 
the bazar-woman she died after six months of 
the Gate, and I think Fung-Tching took her 
bangles and nose-ring for himself. But I'm not 
certain. The Englishman, he drank as well as 
smoked, and he dropped off. One of the Per- 
sians got killed in a row at night by the big well 
near the mosque a long time ago, and the Police 
shut up the well, because they said it was full 
of foul air. They found him dead at the bottom 
of it. So you see, there is only me, the Chinaman, 
the half-caste woman that we call the Memsahib 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows 45 1 

(she used to live with Fung-Tching), the other 
Eurasian, and one of the Persians. The Memsa- 
hib looks very old now. I think she was a young 
woman when the Gate was opened; but we are 
all old for the matter of that. Hundreds and 
hundreds of years old. It is very hard to keep 
count of time in the Gate, and, besides, time 
doesn't matter to me. 1 draw my sixty rupees 
fresh and fresh every month. A very, very long 
vvhile ago, when 1 used to be getting three hun- 
dred and fifty rupees a month, and pickings, on 
a big timber-contract at Calcutta, I had a wife of 
sorts. But she's dead now. People said that I 
killed her by taking to the Black Smoke. Per- 
haps I did, but it's so long since that it doesn't 
matter. Sometimes when 1 first came to the 
Gate, I used to feel sorry for it; but that's all 
over and done with long ago, and I draw my 
sixty rupees fresh and fresh every month, and 
am quite happy. Not drunk happy, you know, 
but always quiet and soothed and contented. 

How did I take to it ? it began at Calcutta. I 
used to try it in my own house, just to see what 
it was like. 1 never went very far, but 1 think, 
my wife must have died then. Anyhow, I found 
myself here, and got to know Fung-Tching. I 
don't remember rightly how that came about; 
but he told me of the Gate and I used to go there, 
and, somehow, I have never got away from it 


Indian Tales 

since. Mind you, thiough, the Gate was a re- 
spectable place in Fung-Tching's time where you 
could be comfortable, and not at all like the 
chandoo-khanas where the niggers go. No; it 
was clean and quiet, and not crowded. Of 
course, there were others beside us ten and the 
man; but we always had a mat apiece, with a 
wadded woolen headpiece, all covered with 
black and red dragons and things; just like the 
coffin in the corner. 

At the end of one's third pipe the dragons used 
to move about and fight. I've watched 'em 
many and many a night through. I used to reg- 
ulate my Smoke that way, and now it takes a 
dozen pipes to make 'em stir. Besides, they are 
all torn and dirty, like the mats, and old Fung- 
Tching is dead. He died a couple of years ago, 
and gave me the pipe I always use now — a silver 
one, with queer beasts crawling up and down 
the receiver-bottle below the cup. Before that, 
I think, I used a big bamboo stem with a copper 
cup, a very small one, and a green jade mouth- 
piece. It was a little thicker than a walking- 
stick stem, and smoked sweet, very sweet. 
The bamboo seemed to suck up the smoke. Sil- 
ver doesn't, and I've got to clean it out now and 
then, that's a great deal of trouble, but I smoke 
it for the old man's sake. He must have made a 
good thing out of me, but he always gave me 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows 453 

clean mats and pillows, and the best stuff you 
could get anywhere. 

When he died, his nephew Tsin-ling took up 
the Gate, and he called it the "Temple of the 
Three Possessions"; but we old ones speak of it 
as the " Hundred Sorrows," all the same. The 
nephew does things very shabbily, and I think 
the Memsahib must help him. She lives with 
him; same as she used to do with the old man. 
The two let in all sorts of low people, niggers 
and all, and the Black Smoke isn't as good as it 
used to be. I've found burned bran in my pipe 
over and over again. The old man would have 
died if that had happened in his time. Besides, 
the room is never cleaned, and all the mats are 
torn and cut at the edges. The coffin is gone — 
gone to China again — with the old man and two 
ounces of Smoke inside it, in case he should want 
'em on the way. 

The Joss doesn't get so many sticks burned 
under his nose as he used to; that's a sign of ill- 
luck, as sure as Death. He's all brown, too, and 
no one ever attends to him. That's the Mem- 
sahib's work, 1 know; because, when Tsin-ling 
tried to burn gilt paper before him, she said it 
was a waste of money, and, if he kept a stick 
burning very slowly, the Joss wouldn't know the 
difference. So now we've got the sticks mixed 
with a lot of glue, and they take half an hour 

454 Indian Tales 

longer to burn, and smell stinky. Let alone the 
smell of the room by itself. No business can get 
on if they try that sort of thing. The Joss 
doesn't like it. 1 can see that. Late at night, 
sometimes, he turns all sorts of queer colors — 
blue and green and red — just as he used to do 
when old Fung-Tching was alive; and he rolls 
his eyes and stamps his feet like a devil. 

I don't know why I don't leave the place and 
smoke quietly in a little room of my own in the 
bazar. Most like, Tsin-ling would kill me if I 
went away — he draws my sixty rupees now — 
and besides, it's so much trouble, and I've grown 
to be very fond of the Gate. It's not much to 
look at. Not what it was in the old man's time, 
but 1 couldn't leave it. I've seen so many come 
in and out. And I've seen so many die here on 
the mats that I should be afraid of dying in the 
open now. I've seen some things that people 
would call strange enough; but nothing is 
strange when you're on the Black Smoke, except 
the Black Smoke. And if it was, it wouldn't 
matter. Fung-Tching used to be very particular 
about his people, and never got in any one who'd 
give trouble by dying messy and such. But the 
nephew isn't half so careful. He tells every- 
where that he keeps a "first-chop" house. 
Never tries to get men in quietly, and make them 
comfortable like Fung-Tching did. That's why 

The Gate of the Hundred Sorrows 455 

the Gate is getting a little bit more known than 
it used to be. Among the niggers of course. 
The nephew daren't get a white, or, for matter of 
that, a mixed skin into the place. He has to 
keep us three of course — me and the Memsahib 
and the other Eurasian. We're fixtures. But he 
wouldn't give us credit for a pipeful — not for 

One of these days, 1 hope, 1 shall die in the 
Gate. The Persian and the Madras man are ter- 
ribly shaky now. They've got a boy to light 
their pipes for them. 1 always do that myself. 
Most like, 1 shall see them carried out before me. 
I don't think 1 shall ever outli^'e the Memsahib or 
Tsin-ling. Women last longer than men at the 
Black Smoke, and Tsin-ling has a deal of the old 
man's blood in him, though he does smoke cheap 
stuff. The bazar-woman knew when she was 
going two days before her time; and she died on 
a clean mat with a nicely wadded pillow, and the 
old man hung up her pipe just above the Joss. 
He was always fond of her, I fancy.- But he 
took her bangles just the same. 

I should like to die like the bazar-woman — on 
a clean, cool mat with a pipe of good stuff be- 
tween my lips. When 1 feel I'm going, I shall 
ask Tsin-ling for them, and he can draw my 
sixty rupees a month, fresh and fresh, as long as 
he pleases. Then I shall lie back, quiet and com- 

456 Indian Tales 

fortable, and watch the black and red dragons 
have their last big fight together; and then . . . 
Well, it doesn't matter. Nothing matters much 
to me — only 1 wish Tsin-Iing wouldn't put bran 
into the Black Smoke. 


Wohl auf, my bully cavaliers. 
We ride to church to-day, 

The man that hasn't got a horse 
Must steal one straight away. 

Be reverent, men, remember 

This is a Gottes haus. 
Du, Conrad, cut along der aisle 
And schenck der whiskey aus. 

Hans Breitmann^s Ride to Church. 

ONCE upon a time, very far from England, 
there lived three men who loved each 
other so greatly that neither man nor woman 
could come between them. They were in no 
sense refined, nor to be admitted to the outer- 
door mats of decent folk, because they happened 
to be private soldiers in Her Majesty's Army; 
and private soldiers of our service have small 
time for self-culture. Their duty is to keep them- 
selves and their accoutrements specklessly clean, 
to refrain from getting drunk more often than is 
necessary, to obey their superiors, and to pray for 

45^ Indian Tales 

a war. All these things my friends accomplished ; 
and of their own motion threw in some fighting- 
work for which the Army Regulations did not 
call. Their fate sent them to serve in India, 
which is not a golden country, though poets 
have sung otherwise. There men die with great 
swiftness, and those who live suffer many and 
curious things. 1 do not think that my friends 
concerned themselves much with the social or 
political aspects of the East. They attended a 
not unimportant war on the northern frontier, 
another one on our western boundary, and a 
third in Upper Burma. Then their regiment sat 
still to recruit, and the boundless monotony of 
cantonment life was their portion. They were 
drilled morning and evening on the same dusty 
parade-ground. They wandered up and down 
the same stretch of dusty white road, attended 
the same church and the same grog-shop, and 
slept in the same lime-washed barn of a barrack 
for two long years. There was Mulvaney, the 
father in the craft, who had served with various 
regiments from Bermuda to Halifax, old in war, 
scarred, reckless, resourceful, and in his pious 
hours an unequalled soldier. To him turned for 
help and comfort six and a half feet of slow- 
moving, heavy-footed Yorkshiremen, born on 
the wolds, bred in the dales, and educated chiefly 
among the carriers' carts at the back of York 

The Incarnation of Krishna Miilvaney 459 

railway-station. His name was Learoyd, and his 
chief virtue an unmitigated patience which helped 
him to win fights. How Ortheris, a fox-terrier 
of a Cockney, ever came to be one of the trio, is 
a mystery which even to-day I cannot explain. 
"There was always three av us," Mulvaney used 
to say. "An' by the grace av God, so long as 
our service lasts, three av us they'll always be. 
'Tis betther so." 

They desired no companionship beyond their 
own, and it was evil for any man of the regi- 
ment who attempted dispute with them. Phys- 
ical argument was out of the question as regarded 
Mulvaney and the Yorkshireman; and assault on 
Ortheris meant a combined attack from these 
twain — a business which no five men were anx- 
ious to have on their hands. Therefore they 
flourished, sharing their drinks, their tobacco, and 
their money; good luck and evil; battle and the 
chances of death; life and the chances of happi- 
ness from Calicut in southern, to Peshawur in 
northern India. 

Through no merit of my own it was my good 
fortune to be in a measure admitted to their 
friendship — frankly by Mulvaney from the be- 
ginning, sullenly and with reluctance by Learoyd, 
and suspiciously by Ortheris, who held to it that 
no man not in the Army could fraternize with 
a red-coat. "Like to like," said he. "I'm a 

460 Indian Tales 

bloomin' sodger — he's a bloomin' civilian. 'Tain't 
natural — that's all." 

But that was not all. They thawed progress- 
ively, and in the thawing told me more of their 
lives and adventures than I am ever likely to 

Omitting all else, this tale begins with the La- 
mentable Thirst that was at the beginning of First 
Causes. Never was such a thirst — Mulvaney told 
me so. They kicked against their compulsory 
virtue, but the attempt was only successful in 
the case of Ortheris. He, whose talents were 
many, went forth into the highways and stole a 
dog from a "civilian" — videlicet, some one, he 
knew not who, not in the Armv. Now that 
civilian was but newly connected by marriage 
with the colonel of the regiment, and outcry was 
made from quarters least anticipated by Ortheris, 
and, in the end, he was forced, lest a worse thing 
should happen, to dispose at ridiculously unre- 
munerative rates of as promising a small terrier 
as ever graced one end of a leading string. The 
purchase-money was barely sufficient for one 
small outbreak which led him to the guard-room. 
He escaped, however, with nothing worse than 
a severe reprimand, and a few hours of punish- 
ment drill. Not for nothing had he acquired the 
reputation of being ' ' the best soldier of his inches " 
in the regiment. Mulvaney had taught personal 

The Incarnation of Krishna MiUvaney 461 

cleanliness and efficiency as the first articles of 
his companions' creed. "A dhirty man," he was 
used to say, in the speech of his kind, "goes to 
Clink for a weakness in the knees, an' is.coort- 
martialled for a" pair av socks missin'; but a clane 
man, such as is an ornament to his service — a 
man whose- buttons are gold, whose coat is wax 
upon him, an' whose 'coutrements are widout a 
S'pQck—that man may, spakin' in reason, do fwhat 
he likes an' dhrink from day to divil. That's the 
pride av bein' dacint." 

We sat together, upon a day, in the shade of 
a ravine far from the barracks, where a water- 
course used to run in rainy weather. Behind us 
was the scrub jungle, in which jackals, peacocks, 
the grey wolves of the Northwestern Provinces, 
and occasionally a tiger estrayed from Central 
India, were supposed to dwell. In front lay the 
cantonment, glaring white under a glaring sun; 
and on either side ran the broad road that led to 

It was the scrub that suggested to my mind 
the wisdom of Mulvaney taking a day's leave 
and going upon a shooting-tour. The peacock 
is a holy bird throughout India, and he who slays 
one is in danger of being mobbed bv the nearest 
villagers; but on the last occasion that Mulvaney 
had gone forth, he had contrived, without in the 
least offending local religious susceptibilities, to 

462 Indian Tales 

return with six beautiful peacock skins which he 
sold to profit. It seemed just possible then — 

"But fwhat manner av use is ut to me goin' 
out widout a dhrink? The ground's powdher- 
dhry underfoot, an' ut gets unto the throat fit to 
kill," wailed Mulvaney, looking at me reproach- 
fully. "An' a peacock is not a bird you can 
catch the tail av onless ye run. Can a man run 
on wather — an' jungle- wather too .^" 

Ortheris had considered the question in all its 
bearings. He spoke, chewing his pipe-stem 
meditatively the while: 

" Go forth, return in glory, 
To Clusium's royal 'ome : 
An' round these bloomin' temples 'ang 
The bloomin' shields o' Rome, 

You better go. You ain't like to shoot yourself 
— not while there's a chanst of liquor. Me an' 
Learoyd '11 stay at 'ome an' keep shop — 'case o' 
anythin' turnin' up. But you go out with a gas- 
pipe gun an' ketch the little peacockses or some- 
thin'. You kin get one day's leave easy as 
winkin'. Go along an' get it, an' get peacockses 
or somethin'." 

"Jock," said Mulvaney, turning to Learoyd, 
who was half asleep under the shadow of the 
bank. He roused slowly. 

"Sitha, Mulvaaney, go," said he. 

The Incarnation of Krishna Miilvaney 463 

And Mulvaney went; cursing his allies with 
Irish fluency and barrack-room point. 

"Take note," said he, when he had won his 
holiday, and appeared dressed in his roughest 
clothes with the only other regimental fowling 
piece in his hand. "Take note, Jock, an' you 
Orth'ris, I am goin' in the face av my own will — 
all for to please you. 1 misdoubt anythin' will 
come av permiscuous huntin' afther peacockses 
in a desolit Ian'; an' 1 know that 1 will lie down 
an' die wid thirrrst. Me catch peacockses for 
you, ye lazy scutts — an' be sacrificed by the peas- 
anthry — Ugh ! " 

He waved a huge paw and went away. 

At twilight, long before the appointed hour, he 
returned empty-handed, much begrimed with 

" Peacockses .^" queried Ortheris from the safe 
rest of a barrack-room table whereon he was 
smoking cross-legged, Learoyd fast asleep on a 

"Jock," said Mulvaney, without answering, as 
he stirred up the sleeper. "Jock, can ye fight? 
Will ye fight.?" 

Very slowly the meaning of the words com- 
municated itself to the half-roused man. He 
understood — and again — what might these things 
mean ? Mulvaney was shaking him savagely. 
Meantime the men in the room howled with de- 

464 Indian Tales 

light. There was war in the confederacy at last 
— war and the breaking of bonds. 

Barrack-room etiquette is stringent. On the 
direct challenge must follow the direct reply. 
This is more binding than the ties of tried friend- 
ship. Once again Mulvaney repeated the ques- 
tion. Learoyd answered by the only means in 
his power, and so swiftly that the Irishman had 
barely time to avoid the blow. The laughter 
around increased. Learoyd looked bewilderedly 
at his friend — himself as greatly bewildered. 
Ortheris dropped from the table because his 
world was falling. 

"Come outside," said Mulvaney, and as the 
occupants of the barrack-room prepared joyously 
to follow, he turned and said furiously, "There 
will be no fight this night — onless any wan av 
you is wishful to assist. The man that does, 
follows on." 

No man moved. The three passed out into the 
moonlight, Learoyd fumbling with the buttons 
of his coat. The parade-ground was deserted 
except for the scurrying jackals. Mulvaney's 
impetuous rush carried his companions far into 
the open ere Learoyd attempted to turn round 
and continue the discussion. 

"Be still now. 'Twas my fault for beginnin' 
things in the middle av an end, Jock. I should 
ha' comminst wid an explanation; but Jock, dear. 

The Incarnation of Krishna Miilvaney 465 

on your sowl are ye fit, think you, for the finest 
fight that iver was — betther than fightin' me? 
Considher before ye answer." 

More than ever puzzled, Learoyd turned round 
two or three times, felt an arm, kicked tenta- 
tively, and answered, " Ah'm fit." He was ac- 
customed to fight blindly at the bidding of the 
superior mind. 

They sat them down, the men looking on from 
afar, and Mulvaney untangled himself in mighty 

" Followin' your fools' scheme 1 wint out into 
the thrackless desert beyond the barricks. An' 
there 1 met a pious Hindu dhriving a bullock- 
kyart. 1 tuk ut for granted he wud be delighted 
for to convoy me a piece, an' I jumped in " — 

" You long, lazy, black-haired swine," drawled 
Ortheris, who would have done the same thing 
under similar circumstances. 

"'Twas the height av policy. That naygur- 
man dhruv miles an' miles — as far as the new 
railway line they're buildin' now back av the 
Tavi river. ' 'Tis a kyart for dhirt only,' says he 
now an' again timoreously, to get me out av ut. 
' Dhirt I am,' sez I, 'an' the dhryest that you iver 
kyarted. Dhrive on, me son, an' glory be wid 
you.' At that I wint to slape, an' took no heed 
till he pulled up on the embankmint av the line 
where the coolies were pilin' mud. There was a 

466 Indian Tales 

matther av two thousand coolies on that line — 
you remimber that. Prisintly a bell rang, an' 
they throops off to a big pay-shed. ' Where's 
the white man in charge?' sez 1 to my kyart- 
dhriver. 'In the shed,' sez he, 'engaged on a 
riffle.' — 'A fwhat?' sez I. 'Riffle,' sez he. 
' You take ticket. He take money. You get 
nothin'.' — 'Oho!' sez I, 'that's fwhat the shu- 
perior an' cultivated man calls a raffle, me misbe- 
guided child av darkness an' sin. Lead on to 
that raffle, though fwhat the mischief 'tis doin' 
so far away from uts home — which is the charity- 
bazaar at Christmas, an' the colonel's wife grin- 
nin' behind the tea-table — is more than I know.' 
Wid that I wint to the shed an' found 'twas pay- 
day among the coolies. Their wages was on a 
table forninst a big, fine, red buck av a man — 
sivun fut high, four fut wide, an' three fut thick, 
wid a fist on him like a corn-sack. He was 
payin' the coolies fair an' easy, but he wud ask 
each man if he wud raffle that month, an' each 
man sez, 'Yes,' av course. Thin he wud deduct 
from their wages accordin'. Whin all was paid, 
he filled an ould cigar-box full av gun-wads an' 
scatthered ut among the coolies. They did not 
take much joy av that performince, an' small 
wondher. A man close to me picks up a black 
gun-wad an' sings out, ' I have ut.' — ' Good may 
ut do vou.' %ez I. The coolie wint forward to 

The Incarnation of Krishna Miilvaney 467 

this big, fine, red man, who threw a cloth off av 
the most sumpshus, jooled, enamelled an' vari- 
ously bedivilled sedan-chair I iver saw." 

"Sedan-chair! Put your 'ead in a bag. That 
was a palanquin. Dont yer know a palanquin 
when you see it .''" said Ortheris with great scorn. 

" I chuse to call ut sedan chair, an' chair ut shall 
be, little man," continued the Irishman. " 'Twas 
a most amazin' chair — all lined wid pink silk an' 
fitted wid red silk curtains. ' Here ut is,' sez the 
red man. ' Here ut is,' sez the coolie, an' he 
grinned weakly-ways. 'Is ut any use to you?' 
sez the red man. 'No,' sez the coolie; 'I'd like 
to make a presint av ut to you.' — ' 1 am gra- 
ciously pleased to accept that same,' sez the red 
man; an' at that all the coolies cried aloud in 
fwhat was mint for cheerful notes, an' wint back 
to their diggin', lavin' me alone in the shed. The 
red man saw me, an' his face grew blue on his 
big, fat neck. 'Fwhat d'you want here?' sez 
he. 'Standin'-room an' no more,' sez I, 'onless 
it may be fwhat ye niver had, an' that's manners, 
ye rafflin' ruffian,' for I was not goin' to have the 
Service throd upon. ' Out of this,' sez he. 'I'm 
in charge av this section av construction.' — ' I'm 
in charge av mesilf,' sez I, 'an' ifs like I will stay 
a while. D'ye raffle much in these parts ? ' — 
' Fwhat's that to you ? ' sez he. ' Nothin',' sez I, 
' but a great dale to you, for begad I'm thinkin' 

4^8 Indian Tales 

you get the full half av your revenue from that 
sedan-chair. Is ut always raffled so ? ' I sez, an' 
wid that I wint to a coolie to ask questions. 
Bhoys, that man's name is Dearsley, an' he's been 
rafflin' that ould sedan-chair monthly this matther 
av nine months. Ivry coolie on the section takes 
a ticket — or he gives 'em the go — wanst a month 
on pay-day. Ivry coolie that wins ut gives ut 
back to him, for 'tis too big to carry away, an' 
he'd sack the man that thried to sell ut. That 
Dearsley has been makin' the rowlin' wealth av 
Roshus by nefarious rafflin'. Think av the 
burnin' shame to the sufferin' coolie-man that 
the army in Injia are bound to protect an' nourish 
in their bosoms! Two thousand coolies de- 
frauded wanst a month ! " 

" Dom t' coolies. Has't gotten t' cheer, man ?" 
said Learoyd. 

"Hould on. Havin' onearthed this amazin' 
an' stupenjus fraud committed by the man Dears- 
ley, 1 hild a council av war; he thryin' all the 
time to sejuce me into a fight wid opprobrious 
language. That sedan-chair niver belonged by 
right to any foreman av coolies. 'Tis a king's 
chair or a quane's. There's gold on ut an' silk 
an' all manner av trapesemints. Bhoys, 'tis not 
for me to countenance any sort av wrong-doin' 
— me bein' the ould man — but — anyway he has 
had ut nine months, an' he dare not make throuble 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 469 

av ut was taken from him. Five miles away, or 
ut may be six" — 

There was a long pause, and the jackals 
howled merrily. Learoyd bared one arm, and 
^oniemplated it in the moonlight. Then he nod- 
ded partly to himself and partly to his friends. 
Ortheris wriggled with suppressed emotion. 

" 1 thought ye wud see the reasonableness av 
ut," said Mulvaney. "1 make bould to say as 
much to the man before. He was for a direct 
front attack — fut, horse, an' guns — an' all for 
nothin', seein' that I had no thransport to convey 
the machine away. * I will not argue wid you,' 
sez 1, ' this day, but subsequintly. Mister Dearsley, 
me rafflin' jool, we talk ut out lengthways. 'Tis 
no good policy to swindle the naygur av his 
hard-earned emolumints, an' by presint informa- 
shin" — 'twas the kyart man that tould me — 
'ye've been perpethrating that same for nine 
months. But I'm a just man,' sez I, 'an' over- 
lookin' the presumpshin that yondher settee wid 
the gilt top was not come by honust ' — at that he 
turned sky-green, so I knew things was more 
thrue than tellable — ' not come by honust. I'm 
willin' to compound the felony for thi? month's 
winnin's.' " 

"Ah! Ho! " from Learoyd and Ortheris. 

"That man Dearsley's rushin' on his fate," con- 
tinued Mulvaney, solemnly wagging his head. 

470 Indian Tales 

"All Hell had no name bad enough for me that 
tide. Faith, he called me a robber! Me! that 
was savin' him from continuin' in his evil ways 
widout a remonstrince — an' to a man av con- 
science a remonstrince may change the chune av 
his life. ''Tis not for me to argue.' sez I, 
' fwhatever ye are, Mister Dearsley, but, by my 
hand, I'll take away the temptation for you that 
lies in that sedan-chair.' — ' You will have to fight 
me for ut,' sez he, * for well I know you will 
never dare make report to any one.' — ' Fight I 
will,' sez I, ' but not this day, for I'm rejuced for 
want av nourishment.' — ' Ye're an ould bould 
hand,' sez he, sizin' me up an' down; 'an' a jool 
av a fight we will have. Eat now an' dhrink, 
an' go your way.' Wid that he gave me some 
hump an' whisky — good whisky — an' we talked 
av this an' that the while. * It goes hard on me 
now,' sez I, wipin' my mouth, 'to confiscate that 
piece av furniture, but justice is justice.' — * Ye've 
not got ut yet,' sez he; 'there's the fight be- 
tween.' — 'There is,' sez I, 'an' a good fight. Ye 
shall have the pick av the best quality in my rigi- 
mint for the dinner you have given this day.' 
Thin I came hot-foot to you two. Hould your 
tongue, the both. *Tis this way. To-morrow 
we three will go there an' he shall have his pick 
betune me an' Jock. Jock's a deceivin' fighter, 
for he is all fat to the eye, an' he moves slow. 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 471 

Now I'm all beef to the look, an' I move quick. 
By my reckonin' the Dearsley man won't take 
me; so me an' Orth'ris '11 see fair play. Jock, 1 
tell you, 'twill be big fightin' — whipped, wid the 
cream above the jam. Afther the business 'twill 
take a good three av us — Jock '11 be very hurt — 
to haul away that sedan-chair." 

"Palanquin." This from Ortheris. 

" Fwhatever ut is, we must have ut. 'Tis the 
only sellin' piece av property widin reach that we 
can get so cheap. An' f what's a fight afther all ? 
He has robbed the naygur-man, dishonust. We 
rob him honust for the sake av the whisky he 
gave me." 

"But wot'll we do with the bloomin' article 
when we've got it ? Them palanquins are as big 
as 'ouses, an' uncommon 'ard to sell, as jMcCleary 
said when ye stole the sentry-box from the 

" Who's goin' to do t' fightin' ?" said Learoyd, 
and Ortheris subsided. The three returned to 
barracks without a word. Mulvaney's last argu- 
ment clinched the matter. This palanquin was 
property, vendible, and to be attained in the 
simplest and least embarrassing fashion. It 
would eventually become beer. Great was Mul- 

Next afternoon a procession of three formed 
itself and disappeared into the scrub in the direc- 

472 Indian Tales 

tion of the new railway line. Learoyd alone was 
without care, for Mulvaney dived darkly into the 
future, and little Ortheris feared the unknown. 
What befell at that interview in the lonely pay- 
shed by the side of the half-built embankment, 
only a few hundred coolies know, and their tale 
is a confusing one, running thus — 

" We were at work. Three men in red coats 
came. They saw the Sahib — Dearsley Sahib. 
They made oration; and noticeably the small 
man among the red-coats. Dearsley Sahib also 
made oration, and used many very strong words. 
Upon this talk they departed together to an open 
space, and there the fat man in the red coat 
fought with Dearsley Sahib after the custom of 
white men — with his hands, making no noise, 
and never at all pulling Dearsley Sahib's hair. 
Such of us as were not afraid beheld these things 
for just so long a time as a man needs to cook the 
midday meal. The small man in the red coat 
had possessed himself of Dearsley Sahib's watch. 
No, he did not steal that watch. He held it in 
his hand, and at certain seasons made outcry, and 
the twain ceased their combat, which was like 
the combat of young bulls in spring. Both men 
were soon all red, but Dearsley Sahib was much 
more red than the other. Seeing this, and fear- 
ing for his life — because we greatly loved him — 
some fifty of us made shift to rush upon the 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 473 

red-coats. But a certain man — very black as to 
the hair, and in no way to be confused with the 
small man, or the fat man who fought — that 
man, we affirm, ran upon us, and of us he em- 
braced some ten or fifty in both arms, and beat 
our heads together, so that our livers turned to 
water, and we ran away. It is not good to in- 
terfere in the fightings of white men. After 
that Dearsley Sahib fell and did not rise, these 
men jumped upon his stomach and despoiled 
him of all his money, and attempted to fire the 
pay-shed, and departed. Is it true that Dearsley 
Sahib makes no complaint of these latter things 
having been done } We were senseless with 
fear, and do not at all remember. There was no 
palanquin near the pay-shed. What do we know 
about palanquins ? Is it true that Dearsley Sahib 
does not return to this place, on account of his 
sickness, for ten days } This is the fault of those 
bad men in the red coats, who should be severely 
punished; for Dearsley Sahib is both our father 
and mother, and we love him much. Yet, if 
Dearsley Sahib does not return to this place at all, 
we will speak the truth. There was a palanquin, 
for the up-keep of which we were forced to pay 
nine-tenths of our monthly wage. On such 
mulctings Dearsley Sahib allowed us to make 
obeisance to him before the palanquin. What 
could we do ? We were poor men. He took a 

474 Indian Tales 

full half of our wages. Will the Government 
repay us those moneys ? Those three men in 
red coats bore the palanquin upon their shoulders 
and departed. All the money that Dearsley Sahib 
had taken from us was in the cushions of that 
palanquin. Therefore they stole it. Thousands 
of rupees were there — all our money. It was 
our bank-box, to till which we cheerfully con- 
tributed to Dearsley Sahib three-sevenths of our 
monthly wage. Why does the white man look 
upon us with the eye of disfavor } Before God, 
there was a palanquin, and now there is no 
palanquin; and if they send the police here to 
make inquisition, we can only say that there 
never has been any palanquin. Why should a 
palanquin be near these works } We are poor 
men, and we know nothing." 

Such is the simplest version of the simplest 
story connected with the descent upon Dearsley. 
From the lips of the coolies I received it. Dears- 
ley himself was in no condition to say anything, 
and Mulvaney preserved a massive silence, broken 
only by the occasional licking of the lips. He 
had seen a fight so gorgeous that even his power 
of speech was taken from him. 1 respected that 
reserve until, three days after the affair, 1 dis- 
covered in a disused stable in my quarters a pal- 
anquin of unchastened splendor — evidently in past 
days the litter of a queen. The pole whereby it 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney ^jz, 

swung between the shoulders of the bearers was 
rich with the painted papier-mache of Cashmere. 
The shoulder-pads were of yellow silk. The 
panels of the litter itself were ablaze with the 
loves of all the gods and goddesses of the Hindu 
Pantheon — lacquer on cedar. The cedar sliding 
doors were fitted with hasps of translucent Jaipur 
enamel and ran in grooves shod with silver. The 
cushions were of brocaded Delhi silk, and the 
curtains which once hid any glimpse of the beauty 
of the king's palace were stiff with gold. Closer 
investigation showed that the entire fabric was 
everywhere rubbed and discolored by time and 
wear; but even thus it was sufficiently gorgeous 
to deserve housing on the threshold of a royal 
zenana. 1 found no fault with it, except that it 
was in my stable. Then, trying to lift it by the 
silver-shod shoulder-pole, I laughed. The road 
from Dearsley's pay-shed to the cantonment was 
a narrow and uneven one, and, traversed by 
three very inexperienced palanquin-bearers, one 
of whom was sorely battered about the head, 
must have been a path of torment. Still I did 
not quite recognize the right of the three mus- 
keteers to turn me into a "fence" for stolen 

"I'm askin' you to warehouse ut," said Mul- 
vaney when he was brought to consider the 
question. "There's no steal in ut. Dearsley 

476 Indian Tales 

tould us we cud have ut if we fought. Jock 
fought — an', oh, sorr, when the throuble was at 
uts finest an' Jock was bleedin' like a stuck pig, 
an' Httle Orth'ris was shqueaUn' on one leg 
chewin' big bites out av Dearsley's watch, I wud 
ha' given my place at the fight to have had you 
see wan round. He tuk Jock, as I suspicioned 
he would, an' Jock was deceptive. Nine roun's 
they were even matched, an' at the tenth — 
About that palanquin now. There's not the 
least throuble in the world, or we wud not ha' 
brought ut here. You will ondherstand that the 
Queen — God bless her! — does not reckon for a 
privit soldier to kape elephints an' palanquins an' 
sich in barricks. Afther we had dhragged ut 
down from Dearsley's through that cruel scrub 
that near broke Orth'ris's heart, we set ut in the 
ravine for a night; an' a thief av a porcupine an' 
a civet-cat av a jackal roosted in ut, as well we 
knew in the mornin'. I put ut to you, sorr, is 
an elegint palanquin, fit for the princess, the nat- 
ural abidin' place av all the vermin in canton- 
mints? We brought ut to you, afther dhark, 
and put ut in your shtable. Do not let your con- 
science prick. Think av the rejoicin' men in the 
pay-shed yonder — lookin' at Dearsley wid his 
head tied up in a towel — an' well knowin' that 
they can dhraw their pay ivry month widout 
stoppages for riffles. Indirectly, sorr, you have 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 477 

rescued from an onprincipled son av a night- 
hawk the peasanthry av a numerous village. An' 
besides, will I let that sedan-chair rot on our 
hands ? Not 1. 'Tis not every day a piece av 
pure joolry comes into the market. There's not 
a king widin these forty miles " — he waved his 
hand round the dusty horizon — " not a king wud 
not be glad to buy ut. Some day meself, whin 
I have leisure, I'll take ut up along the road an' 
dishpose av ut." 

"How.^" said 1, for I knew the man was ca- 
pable of anything. 

"Get into ut, av coorse, and keep wan eye 
open through the curtains. Whin I see a likely 
man av the native persuasion, I will descind 
blushin' from my canopy and say, ' Buy a pal- 
anquin, ye black scutt }' I will have to hire four 
men to carry me first, though; and that's impos- 
sible till next pay-day." 

Curiously enough, Learoyd, who had fought 
for the prize, and in the winning secured the 
highest pleasure life had to offer him, was alto- 
gether disposed to undervalue it, while Ortheris 
openly said it would be better to break the thing 
up. Dearsley, he argued, might be a many-sided 
man, capable, despite his magnificent fighting 
qualities, of setting in motion the machinery of 
the civil law — a thing much abhorred by the sol- 
dier. Under any circumstances their fun had 

478 Indiajt Tales 

come and passed; the next pay-day was close at 
hand, when there would be beer for all. Where- 
fore longer conserve the painted palanquin ? 

"A first-class rifle-shot an' a good little man 
av your inches you are," said Mulvaney. "But 
you niver had a head worth a soft-boiled egg. 
'Tis me has to lie awake av nights schamin' an' 
plottin' for the three av us. Orth'ris, me son, 'tis 
no matther av a few gallons av beer — no, nor 
twenty gallons — but tubs an' vats an' firkins in 
that sedan-chair. Who ut was, an' what ut was, 
an' how ut got there, we do not know; but I 
know in my bones that you an' me an' Jock wid 
his sprained thumb will get a fortune thereby. 
Lave me alone, an' let me think." 

Meantime the palanquin stayed in my stall, the 
key of which was in Mulvaney's hands. 

Pay-day came, and with it beer. It was not in 
experience to hope that Mulvaney, dried by four 
weeks' drought, would avoid excess. Next morn- 
ing he and the palanquin had disappeared. He 
had taken the precaution of getting three days' 
leave "to see a friend on the railway," and the 
colonel, well knowing that the seasonal outburst 
was near, and hoping it would spend its force 
beyond the limits of his jurisdiction, cheerfully 
gave him all he demanded. At this point Mul- 
vaney's history, as recorded in the mess-room, 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 479 

Ortheris carried it not much further. "No, 'e 
wasn't drunk," said the little man loyally, "the 
liquor was no more than feelin' its way round in- 
side of 'im; but 'e went an' filled that 'ole 
bloomin' palanquin with bottles 'fore 'e went off. 
'E's gone an' 'ired six men to carry 'im, an' I 'ad 
to 'elp 'im into 'is nupshal couch, 'cause 'e 
wouldn't 'ear reason. 'E's gone oflF in 'is shirt 
an' trousies, swearin' tremenjus — gone down the 
road in the palanquin, wavin' 'is legs out o' 

"Yes," said I, "but where?" 

"Now you arx me a question. 'E said *e was 
goin' to sell that palanquin, but from observations 
what happened when I was stuffin' 'im through 
the door, 1 fancy 'e's gone to the new embank- 
ment to mock at Dearsley. 'Soon as Jock's off 
duty I'm goin' there to see if 'e's safe — not Mul- 
vaney, but t'other man. My saints, but I pity 
'im as 'elps Terence out 0' the palanquin when 'e's 
once fair drunk! " 

"He'll come back without harm," I said. 

"'Corse 'e will. On'y question is, what'll 'e 
be doin' on the road ? Killing Dearsley, like as 
not. 'E shouldn't 'a gone without jock or me." 

Reinforced by Learoyd, Ortheris sought the 
foreman of the coolie-gang. Dearsley's head was 
still embellished with towels. Mulvaney, drunk 
or sober^ would have struck no man in that con- 

48o Indian Tales 

dition, and Dearsley indignantly denied that he 
would have taken advantage of the intoxicated 

"1 had my pick o' you two," he explained to 
Learoyd, "and you got my palanquin — not before 
I'd made my profit on it. Why'd I do harm 
when everything's settled } Your man did come 
here — drunk as Davy's sow on a frosty night — 
came a-purpose to mock me — stuck his head out 
of the door an' called me a crucified hodman. I 
made him drunker, an' sent him along. But I 
never touched him." 

To these things Learoyd, slow to perceive the 
evidences of sincerity, answered only, "if owt 
comes to Mulvaaney 'long o' you, I'll gripple you, 
clouts or no clouts on your ugly head, an' I'll 
draw f throat twistyways, man. See there 

The embassy removed itself, and Dearsley, the 
battered, laughed alone over his supper that 

Three days passed — a fourth and a fifth. The 
week drew to a close and Mulvaney did not re- 
turn. He, his royal palanquin, and his six at- 
tendants, had vanished into air. A very large 
and very tipsy soldier, his feet sticking out of the 
litter of a reigning princess, is not a thing to 
travel along the ways without comment. Yet no 
man of all the country round had seen any such 

The Incanidtiou oj Krishna Mulvaney 481 

wonder. He was, and he was not; and Learoyd 
suggested the immediate smashment of Dearsley 
as a sacrifice to his ghost. Ortheris insisted that 
all was well, and in the light of past experience 
his hopes seemed reasonable. 

" When Mulvaney goes up the road," said he, 
" 'e's like to go a very long ways up, specially 
when 'e's so blue drunk as 'e is now. But what 
gits me is 'is not bein' 'eard of puUin' wool otf 
the niggers somewheres about. That don't look 
good. The drink must ha' died out in 'im by 
this, unless 'e's broke a bank, an' then — Why 
don't 'e come back ? 'E didn't ought to ha' gone 
off without us." 

Even Ortheris's heart sank at the end of the 
seventh day, for half the regiment were out 
scouring the country-side, and Learoyd had been 
forced to fight two men who hinted openly that 
Mulvaney had deserted. To do him justice, the 
colonel laughed at the notion, even when it was 
put forward by his much-trusted adjutant. 

" Mulvaney would as soon think of deserting 
as you would," said he. "No; he's either fallen 
into a mischief among the villagers — and yet that 
isn't likely, for he'd blarney himself out of the 
Pit; or else he is engaged on urgent private af- 
fairs — some stupendous devilment that we shall 
hear of at mess after it has been the round of the 
barrack-rooms. The worst of it is that I shall 

482 Indian Tales 

have to give him twenty-eight days' confinement 
at least for being absent without leave, just when 
I most want him to lick the new batch of recruits 
into shape. I never knew a man who could put 
a polish on young soldiers as quickly as Mul- 
vaney can. How does he do it?" 

"With blarney and the buckle-end of a belt, 
sir," said the adjutant. "He is worth a couple 
of non-commissioned officers when we are deal- 
ing with an Irish draft, and the London lads seem 
to adore him. The worst of it is that if he goes 
to the cells the other two are neither to hold nor 
to bind till he comes out again. I believe Ortheris 
preaches mutiny on those occasions, and I know 
that the mere presence of Learoyd mourning for 
Mulvaney kills all the cheerfulness of his room. 
The sergeants tell me that he allows no man to 
laugh when he feels unhappy. They are a queer 

"For all that, I wish we had a few more of 
them. I like a well-conducted regiment, but 
these pasty-faced, shifty-eyed, mealy-mouthed 
young slouchers from the depot worry me some- 
times with their offensive virtue. They don't 
seem to have backbone enough to do anything 
but play cards and prowl round the married 
quarters. I believe I'd forgive that old villain on 
the spot if he turned up with any sort of explana- 
tion that I could in decency accept." 

The Incarnat ion of Krishna Mulvaney 483 

"Not likely to be much difficulty about that, 
sir," said the adjutant. " Mulvaney's explana- 
tions are only one degree less wonderful than his 
performances. They say that when he was in 
the Black Tyrone, before he came to us, he was 
discovered on the banks of the Liffey trying to 
sell his colonel's charger to a Donegal dealer as a 
perfect lady's hack. Shackbolt commanded the 
Tyrone then." 

"Shackbolt must have had apoplexy at the 
thought of his ramping war-horses answering to 
that description. He used to buy unbacked 
devils, and tame them on some pet theory of 
starvation. What did Mulvaney say ?" 

"That he was a member of the Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, anxious to 
'sell the poor baste where he would get some- 
thing to fill out his dimples.' Shackbolt laughed, 
but I fancy that was why Mulvaney exchanged 
to ours." 

" I wish he were back," said the colonel; " for 
I like him and believe he likes me." 

That evening, to cheer our souls, Learoyd, 
Ortheris, and 1 went into the waste to smoke out 
a porcupine. All the dogs attended, but even 
their clamor — and they began to discuss the 
shortcomings of porcupines before they left can- 
tonments — could not take us out of ourselves. 
A large, low moon turned the tops of the plume- 

484 Indian Tales 

grass to silver, and the stunted camelthorn bushes 
and sour tamarisks into the likenesses of trooping 
devils. The smell of the sun had not left the 
earth, and little aimless winds blowing across the 
rose-gardens to the southward brought the scent 
of dried roses and water. Our fire once started, 
and the dogs craftily disposed to wait the dash of 
the porcupine, we climbed to the top of a rain- 
scarred hillock of earth, and looked across the 
scrub seamed with cattle paths, white with the 
long grass, and dotted with spots of level pond- 
bottom, where the snipe would gather in winter. 

"This," said Ortheris, with a sigh, as he took 
in the unkempt desolation of it all, "this is san- 
guinary. This is unusually sanguinary. Sort 
o' mad country. Like a grate when the fire's put 
out by the sun." He shaded his eyes against the 
moonlight. "An' there's a loony dancin' in the 
middle of it all. Quite right. I'd dance too if I 
wasn't so downheart." 

There pranced a Portent in the face of the 
moon — a huge and ragged spirit of the waste, 
that flapped its wings from afar. It had risen 
out of the earth; it was coming toward us, and 
its outline was never twice the same. The toga, 
table-cloth, or dressing-gown, whatever the 
creature wore, took a hundred shapes. Once it 
stopped on a neighboring mound and flung all its 
legs and arms to the winds. 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 485 

"My, but that scarecrow 'as got 'em bad!" 
said Ortheris. "Seems like if 'e comes any 
furder we'll 'ave to argify with 'im." 

Learoyd raised himself from the dirt as a bull 
clears his flanks of the wallow. And as a bull 
bellows, so he, after a short minute at gaze, gave 
tongue to the stars. 

"Mulvaaney! Mulvaanby! A-hoo!" 

Oh then it was that we yelled, and the figure 
dipped into the hollow, till, with a crash of rend- 
ing grass, the lost one strode up to the light of 
the fire, and disappeared to the waist in a wave 
of joyous dogs! Then Learoyd and Ortheris 
gave greeting, bass and falsetto together, both 
swallowing a lump in the throat. 

"You damned fool!" said they, and severally 
pounded him with their fists. 

"Go easy!" he answered; wrapping a huge 
arm around each. " I would have you to know 
that I am a god, to be treated as such — tho', by 
my faith, I fancy I've got to go to the guard- 
room just like a privit soldier." 

The latter part of the sentence destroyed the 
suspicions raised by the former. Any one would 
have been justified in regarding Mulvaney as mad. 
He was hatless and shoeless, and his shirt and 
trousers were dropping off him. But he wore 
one wondrous garment — a gigantic cloak that 
fell from collar-bone to heel — of pale pink silk, 

486 Indian Tales 

wrought all over in cunningest needlework of 
hands long since dead, with the loves of the 
Hindu gods. The monstrous figures leaped in 
and out of the light of the fire as he settled the 
folds round him. 

Ortheris handled the stuff respectfully for a 
moment while 1 was trying to remember where 
I had seen it before. Then he screamed, " What 
'az'e you done with the palanquin ? You're 
wearin' the linin'." 

"1 am," said the Irishman, " an' by the same 
token the 'broidery is scrapin' my hide off. I've 
lived in this sumpshus counterpane for four days. 
Me son, I begin to ondherstand why the naygur 
is no use. Widout me boots, an' me trousies 
like an openwork stocking on a gyurl's leg at a 
dance, 1 begin to feel like a naygur-man — all fear- 
ful an' timoreous. Give me a pipe an' Ml tell on." 

He lit a pipe, resumed his grip of his two 
friends, and rocked to and fro in a gale of laugh- 

"Mulvaney," said Ortheris sternly, "'tain'tno 
time for laughin'. You've given Jock an' me 
more trouble than you're worth. You 'ave been 
absent without leave an' you'll go into cells for 
that; an' you 'ave com.e back disgustin'ly dressed 
an' most improper in the linin' o' that bloomin* 
palanquin. Instid of which you laugh. An' we 
thought you was dead all the time." 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 487 

"Bhoys," said the culprit, still shaking gently, 
"whin I've done my tale you may cry if you 
like, an' little Orth'ris here can thrample my in- 
side out. Ha' done an' listen. My performinces 
have been stupenjus: my luck has been the 
blessed luck av the British Army — an' there's no 
betther than that. 1 went out dhrunk an' dhrinkin' 
in the palanquin, and 1 have come back a pink 
god. Did any of you go to Dearsley afther my 
time was up ? He was at the bottom of ut all." 

"Ah said so," murmured Learoyd. "To- 
morrow ah'll smash t' face in upon his heead." 

"Ye will not. Dearsley 's a jool av a man. 
Afther Ortheris had put me into the palanquin 
an' the six bearer-men were gruntin' down the 
road, I tuk thought to mock Dearsley for that 
fight. So I tould thim, 'Go to the embankmint,' 
and there, bein' most amazin' full, 1 shtuck my 
head out av the concern an' passed compliments 
wid Dearsley. I must ha' miscalled him out- 
rageous, for whin I am that way the power av 
the tongue comes on me. I can bare remimber 
tellin' him that his mouth opened endways like 
the mouth av a skate, which was thrue afther 
Learoyd had handled ut; an' I clear remimber his 
takin' no manner nor matter av offence, but givin' 
me a big dhrink of beer, 'Twas the beer did the 
thrick, for I crawled back into the palanquin, 
steppin' on me right ear wid me left foot, an' 

488 Indian Tales 

thin I slept like the dead. Wanst 1 half-roused, 
an' begad the noise in my head was tremenjus — 
roarin' and rattlin' an' poundin', such as was 
quite new to me. 'Mother av Mercy,' thinks I, 
' phwat a concertina 1 will have on my shoulders 
whin I wake!' An' wid that I curls mysilf up 
to sleep before ut should get hould on me. 
Bhoys, that noise was not dhrink, 'twas the rattle 
av a thrain!" 

There followed an impressive pause. 

"Yes, he had put me on a thrain — put me, 
palanquin an' all, an' six black assassins av his 
own coolies that was in his nefarious confidence, 
on the flat av a ballast-thruck, and we were 
rowlin' an' bowlin' along to Benares. Glory be 
that 1 did not wake up thin an' introjuce mysilf 
to the coolies. As I was sayin', 1 slept for the 
betther part av a day an' a night. But remim- 
ber you, that that man Dearsley had packed me 
off on wan av his material-thrains to Benares, all 
for to make me overstay my leave an' get me 
into the cells." 

The explanation was an eminently rational one. 
Benares lay at least ten hours by rail from the 
cantonments, and nothing in the world could 
have saved Mulvaney from arrest as a deserter 
had he appeared there in the apparel of his 
orgies. Dearsley had not forgotten to take re- 
venge. Learoyd, drawing back a little, began to 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 489 

place soft blows over selected portions of Mul- 
vaney's body. His thoughts were away on the 
embankment, and they meditated evil for Dears- 
ley. Mulvaney continued — 

"Whin 1 was full awake the palanquin was 
set down in a street, I suspicioned, for 1 cud hear 
people passin' an' talkin'. But 1 knew well I was 
far from home. There is a queer smell upon our 
cantonments — a smell av dried earth and brick- 
kilns wid whiffs av cavalry stable-litter. This 
place smelt marigold flowers an' bad water, an' 
wanst somethin' alive came an' blew heavy with 
his muzzle at the chink av the shutter. ' It's in a 
village 1 am,' thinks I to myself, 'an' the parochial 
buffalo is investigatin' the palanquin.' But any- 
ways I had no desire to move. Only lie still 
whin you're in foreign parts an' the standin' 
luck av the British Army will carry ye through. 
That is an epigram, 1 made ut. 

"Thin a lot av whishperin' divils surrounded 
the palanquin. ' Take ut up,' sez wan man. 
' But who'll pay us .^' sez another. 'The Maha- 
ranee's minister, av coorse,' sez the man. ' Oho ! ' 
sez I to mysilf, ' I'm a quane in me own right, 
wid a minister to pay me expenses. I'll be an 
emperor if 1 lie still long enough; but this is no 
village I've found.' I lay quiet, but I gummed 
me right eye to a crack av the shutters, an' I saw 
that the whole street was crammed wid palan- 

490 Indian Tales 

quins an' horses, an' a sprinklin' av naked priests 
all yellow powder an' tigers' tails. But I may 
tell you, Orth'ris, an' you, Learoyd, that av all 
the palanquins ours was the most imperial an' 
magnificent. Now a palanquin means a native 
lady all the world over, except whin a soldier av 
the Quane happens to be takin' a ride. ' Women 
an' priests!' sez- I. ' Your father's son is in the 
right pew this time, Terence. There will be 
proceedin's.' Six black divils in pink muslin tuk 
up the palanquin, an' oh! but the rowlin' an' the 
rockin' made me sick. Thin we got fair jammed 
among the palanquins — not more than fifty av 
them — an' we grated an' bumped like Queens- 
town potato-smacks in a runnin' tide. I cud 
hear the women gigglin' and squirkin' in their 
palanquins, but mine .was the royal equipage. 
They made way for ut, an', begad, the pink 
muslin men o' mine were howlin', * Room for 
the Maharanee av Gokral-Seetarun.' Do you 
know aught av the lady, sorr?" 

"Yes," said I. "She is a very estimable old 
queen of the Central Indian States, and they say 
she is fat. How on earth could she go to Benares 
without all the city knowing her palanquin.?" 

"'Twas the eternal foolishness av the naygur- 
man. They saw the palanquin lying loneful an' 
forlornsome, an' the beauty av ut, after Dearsley's 
men had dhropped ut and gone away, an' they 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 491 

gave ut the best name that occurred to thim. 
Quite right too. For aught we know the ould 
lady was travelin' incog — like me. I'm glad to 
hear she's fat. I was no light weight mysilf, an' 
my men were mortial anxious to dhrop me under 
a great big archway promiscuously ornamented 
wid the most improper carvin's an' cuttin's I iver 
saw. Begad! they made me blush — like a — like 
a Maharanee." 

"The temple of Prithi-Devi," 1 murmured, re- 
membering the monstrous horrors of that sculp- 
tured archway at Benares. 

"Pretty Devilskins, savin' your presence, sorr! 
There was nothin' pretty about ut, except me. 
'Twas all half dhark, an' whin the coolies left 
they shut a big black gate behind av us, an' half 
a company av fat yellow priests began pully- 
haulin' the palanquins into a dharker place yet — 
a big stone hall full av pillars, an' gods, an' in- 
cense, an' all manner av similar thruck. The 
gate disconcerted me, for I perceived I wud have 
to go forward to get out, my retreat bein' cut off. 
By the same token a good priest makes a bad 
palanquin-coolie. Begad! they nearly turned me 
inside out draggin' the palanquin to the temple. 
Now the disposishin av the forces inside was this 
way. The Maharanee av Gokral-Seetarun — that 
was me — lay by the favor av Providence on the 
far left flank behind the dhark av a pillar carved 

492 Indian Tale% 

with elephints' heads. The remainder av the 
palanquins was in a big half circle facing in to 
the biggest, fattest, an' most amazin' she-god 
that iver I dreamed av. Her head ran up into the 
black above us, an' her feet stuck out in the light 
av a little fire av melted butter that a priest was 
feedin' out av a butter-dish. Thin a man began 
to sing an' play on somethin' back in the dhark, 
an' 'twas a queer song. Ut made my hair lift on 
the back av my neck. Thin the doors av all the 
palanquins slid back, an' the women bundled out. 
I saw what I'll niver see again. 'Twas more 
glorious than thransformations at a pantomime, 
for they was in pink an' blue an' silver an' red an' 
grass green, wid di'monds an' im'ralds an' great 
red rubies all over thim. But that was the least 
part av the glory. O bhoys, they were more 
lovely than the like av any loveliness in hiven; 
ay, their little bare feet were better than the white 
hands av a lord's lady, an' their mouths were like 
puckered roses, an' their eyes were bigger an' 
dharker than the eyes av any livin' women I've 
seen. Ye may laugh, but I'm speakin' truth. I 
niver saw the like, an' niver I will again." 

"Seeing that in all probability you were watch- 
ing the wives and daughters of most of the kings 
of India, the chances are that you won't," I said, 
for it was dawning on me that Mulvaney had 
stumbled upon a big Queens' Praying at Benares. 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 493 

"I niver will," he said, mournfully. "That 
sight doesn't come twist to any man. It made 
me ashamed to watch. A fat priest knocked at 
my door. I didn't think he'd have the insolince 
to disturb the Maharanee av Gokral-Seetarun, so 
I lay still. ' The old cow's asleep,' sez he to an- 
other. 'Let her be/ sez that. 'Twill be long 
before she has a calf!' 1 might ha' known be- 
fore he spoke that all a woman prays for in Injia 
— an' for matter o' that in England too — is child- 
her. That made me more sorry I'd come, me 
bein', as you well know, a childless man." 

He was silent for a moment, thinking of his 
little son, dead many years ago. 

"They prayed, an' the butter-fires blazed up 
an' the incense turned everything blue, an' be- 
tween that an' the fires the women looked as tho' 
they were all ablaze an' twinklin'. They took 
hold av the she-god's knees, they cried out an' 
they threw themselves about, an' that world- 
without-end-amen music was dhrivin' thim mad. 
Mother av Hiven! how they cried, an' the ould 
she-god grinnin' above thim all so scornful! The 
dhrink was, dyin' out in me fast, an' I was 
thinkin' harder than the thoughts wud go through- 
my head — thinkin' how to get out, an' all manner 
of nonsense as well. The women were rockin' 
in rows, their di'mond belts clickin', an" the tears 
runnin' out betune their hands, an' the lights were 

494 Indian Tales 

goin' lower an' dharker. Thin there was a blaze 
like lightnin' from the roof, an' that showed me 
the inside av the palanquin, an' at the end where 
my foot was, stood the livin' spit an' image o' 
mysilf worked on the linin'. This man here, ut 

He hunted in the folds of his pink cloak, ran a 
hand under one, and thrust into the firelight a 
foot-long embroidered presentment of the great 
god Krishna, playing on a flute. The heavy jowl, 
the staring eye, and the blue-black moustache of 
the god made up a far-off resemblance to Mul- 

" The blaze was gone in a wink, but the whole 
schame came to me thin. 1 believe 1 was mad 
too. 1 slid the off-shutter open an' rowled out 
into the dhark behind the elephint-head pillar, 
tucked up my trousies to my knees, slipped off 
my boots an' tuk a general hould av all the pink 
linin' av the palanquin. Glory be, ut ripped out 
like a woman's dhriss whin you tread on ut at a 
sergeants' ball, an' a bottle came with ut. I tuk 
the bottle an' the next minut I was out av the 
dhark av the pillar, the pink linin' wrapped round 
me most graceful, the music thunderin' like ket- 
tledrums, an' a could draft blowin' round my 
bare legs. By this hand that did ut, I was 
Khrishna tootlin' on the flute — the god that the 
rig'mental chaplain talks about. A sweet sight I 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 495 

must ha' looked. I knew my eyes were big, and 
my face was wax-white, an' at the worst I must 
ha' looked like a ghost. But they took me for 
the livin' god. The music, stopped, and the 
women were dead dumb an' 1 crooked my legs 
like a shepherd on a china basin, an' 1 did the 
ghost-waggle with my feet as 1 had done ut at 
the rig'mental theatre many times, an' 1 slid acrost 
the width av that temple in front av the she-god 
tootlin' on the beer bottle." 

" Wot did you toot?" demanded Ortheris the 

" Me .? Oh! " Mulvaney sprang up, suiting the 
action to the word, and sliding gravely in front 
of us, a dilapidated but imposing deity in the half 
light. "I sang — 

" Only say 
You'll be Mrs. Brallaghan. 
Don't say nay, 
Charmin' Judy Callaghan. 

I didn't know me own voice when 1 sang. An' 
oh! 'twas pitiful to see the women. The darlin's 
were down on their faces. Whin 1 passed the 
last wan I cud see her poor little fingers workin' 
one in another as if she wanted to touch my feet. 
So 1 dhrew the tail av this pink overcoat over her 
head for the greater honor, an' I slid into the 
dhark on the other side av the temple, and fetched 

496 Indian Tales 

up in the arms av a big fat priest. All I wanted 
was to get away clear. So 1 tuk hiin by his 
greasy throat an' shut the speech out av him. 
'Out!' sez I. 'Which way, ye fat heathen .? ' — 
'Oh!' sez he. 'Man,' sez I. 'White man, sol- 
dier man, common soldier man. Where in the 
name av confusion is the back door.?' The 
women in the temple were still on their faces, 
an' a young priest was holdin' out his arms above 
their heads. 

"'This way,' sez my fat friend, duckin' be- 
hind a big bull-god an' divin' into a passage. 
Thin I remimbered that I must ha' made the mi- 
raculous reputation av that temple for the next 
fifty years. 'Not so fast,' I sez, an' I held out 
both my hands wid a wink. That ould thief 
smiled like a father, I tuk him by the back av 
the neck in case he should be wishful to put 
a knife into me unbeknownst, an' I ran him 
up an' down the passage twice to collect his sen- 
sibilities! 'Be quiet,' sez he, in English. 'Now 
you talk sense,' I sez. ' Fwhat'll you give me 
for the use av that most iligant palanquin I have 
no time to take away ? ' — ' Don't tell,' sez he. ' Is 
ut like .?' sez I. ' But ye might give me my rail- 
way fare. I'm far from my home an' I've done 
you a service.' Bhoys, 'tis a good thing to be a 
priest. The ould man niver throubled himself to 
dhraw from a bank. As I will prove to you 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney 497 

subsequint, he philandered all round the slack av 
his clothes an' began dribblin' ten-rupee notes, 
old gold mohurs, and rupees into my hand till I 
could hould no more." 

"You lie!" said Ortheris. "You're mad or 
sunstrook. A native don't give coin unless you 
cut it out o' 'im. 'Tain't nature." 

"Then my lie an' my sunstroke is concealed 
under that lump av sod yonder," retorted Mul- 
vaney, unruffled, nodding across the scrub. 
"An' there's a dale more in nature than your 
squidgy little legs have iver taken you to, Orth- 
'ris, me son. Four hundred an' thirty-four 
rupees by my reckonin", an a big fat gold neck- 
lace that I took from him as a remimbrancer, was 
our share in that business." 

" An' 'e give it you for love } " said Ortheris. 

"We were alone in that passage. Maybe I 
was a trifle too pressin', but considher fwhat I 
had done for the good av the temple and the 
iverlastin' joy av those women. 'Twas cheap at 
the price. I wud ha' taken more if I cud ha' 
found ut. I turned the ould man upside down 
at the last, but he was milked dhry. Thin he 
opened a door in another passage an' 1 found 
mysilf up to my knees in Benares river-water, 
an' bad smellin' ut is. More by token I had come 
out on the river-line close to the burnin' ghat and 
contagious to a cracklin' corpse. This was in 

498 Indian Tales 

the heart av the night, for I had been four hours 
in the temple. There was a crowd av boats 
tied up, so 1 tuk wan an' wint across the river. 
Thin I came home acrost country, lyin' up by 

" How on earth did you manage ?" I said, 

"How did Sir Frederick Roberts get from 
Cabul to Candahar } He marched an' he niver 
tould how near he was to breakin' down. That's 
why he is fwhat he is. An' now " — Mulvaney 
yawned portentously. "Now I will go an' give 
myself up for absince widout leave. It's eight 
an' twenty days an' the rough end of the colonel's 
tongue in orderly room, any way you look at ut. 
But 'tis cheap at the price." 

" Mulvaney," said I, softly. " If there happens 
to be any sort of excuse that the colonel can in 
any way accept, I have a notion that you'll get 
nothing more than the dressing-gown. The new 
recruits are in, and " — 

" Not a word more, sorr. Is ut excuses the old 
man wants ? 'Tis not my way, but he shall have 
thim. I'll tell him I was engaged in financial 
operations connected wid a church," and he 
flapped his way to cantonments and the cells, 
singing lustily — 

" So they sent a corp'ril's file, 
And they put me in the gyard-room 
For conduck unbecomin' of a soldier." 

The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney ^gg 

And when he was lost in the midst of the moon- 
light we could hear the refrain — 

" Bang upon the big drum, bash upon the cymbals, 
As we go marchin' along, boys, oh ! 
For although in this campaign 
There's no whisky nor champagne, 
We'll keep our spirits goin' with a song, boys! '* 

Therewith he surrendered himself to the joyful 
and almost weeping guard, and was made much 
of by his fellows. But to the colonel he said 
that he had been smitten with sunstroke and had 
lain insensible on a villager's cot for untold hours; 
and between laughter and good-will the affair 
was smoothed over, so that he could, next day, 
teach the new recruits how to " Fear God, Hone 
the Queen, Shoot Straight, and Keep Clean," 


"WlTere the word of a King is, there is power: And who 
may say unto him — What doest thou ? " 

^^ WETH ! And Chimo to sleep at ve foot of 
I ve bed, and ve pink pikky-book, and ve 
bwead — 'cause I will be hungwy in ve night — 
and vat's all, Miss Biddums. And now give me 
one kiss and I'll go to sleep. — So! Kite quiet. 
Ow! Ve pink pikky-book has slidded under ve 
pillow and ve bwead is cwumbling! Miss Bid- 
dums! Miss ^/c/dums ! I'msouncomfy! Come 
and tuck me up, Miss Biddums." 

His Majesty the King was going to bed ; and 
poor, patient Miss Biddums, who had advertised 
herself humbly as a "young person, European, 
accustomed to the care of little children," was 
forced to wait upon his royal caprices. The 
going to bed was always a lengthy process, be- 
cause His Majesty had a convenient knack of for- 
getting which of his many friends, from the 
mehfer's son to the Commissioner's daughter, he 
had prayed for, and, lest the Deity should take 
offence, was used to toil through his little prayers, 
in all reverence, five times in one evening. His 
Majesty the King believed in the efficacy of 

His Majesty the King 501 

prayer as devoutly as he believed in Chimo the 
patient spaniel, or Miss Biddums, who could 
reach him down his gun— " with cursuffun caps 
—reel ones "—from the upper shelves of the big 
nursery cupboard. 

At the door of the nursery his authority stopped. 
Beyond lay the empire of his father and mother 
— two very terrible people who had no time to 
waste upon His Majesty the King. His voice 
was lowered when he passed the frontier of his 
own dominions, his actions were fettered, and 
his soul was filled with awe because of the grim 
man who lived among a wilderness of pigeon- 
holes and the most fascinating pieces of red tape, 
and the wonderful woman who was always get- 
ting into or stepping out of the big carriage. 

To the one belonged the mysteries of the 
"' dufiar-room "; to the other the great, reflected 
wilderness of the " Memsahib's room " where the 
shiny, scented dresses hung on pegs, miles and 
miles up in the air, and the just-seen plateau of 
the toilet-table revealed an acreage of speckly 
combs, broidered " hanafitch bags," and " white- 
headed " brushes. 

There was no room for His Majesty the King 
either in official reserve or mundane gorgeousness. 
He had discovered that, ages and ages ago — be- 
fore even Chimo came to the house, or Miss Bid- 
dums had ceased grizzling over a packet of greasy 

502 Indian Tales 

letters which appeared to be her chief treasure on 
earth. His Majesty the King, therefore, wisely 
confined himself to his own territories, where 
only Miss Biddums, and she feebly, disputed his 

From Miss Biddums he had picked up his sim- 
ple theology and welded it to the legends of gods 
and devils that he had learned in the servants' 

To Miss Biddum he confided with equal trust 
his tattered garments and his more serious griefs. 
She would make everything whole. She knew 
exactly how the Earth had been born, and had 
reassured the trembling soul of His Majesty the 
King that terrible time in July when it rained con- 
tinuously for seven days and seven nights, and^ 
there was no Ark ready and all the ravens had 
flown away! She was the most powerful per- 
son with whom he was brought into contact — 
always excepting the two remote and silent peo- 
ple beyond the nursery door. 

How was His Majesty the King to know that, 
six years ago, in the summer of his birth, Mrs. 
Austell, turning over her husband's papers, had 
come upon the intemperate letter of a foolish 
woman who had been carried away by the silent 
man's strength and personal beauty ? How could 
he tell what evil the overlooked slip of note-paper 
had wrought in the mind of a desperately jealous 

His Majesty the King 503 

wife ? How could he, despite his wisdom, guess 
that his mother had chosen to make of it excuse 
for a bar and a division between herself and her 
husband, that strengthened and grew harder to 
break with each year; that she, having unearthed 
this skeleton in the cupboard, had trained it into 
a household God which should be about their 
path and about their bed, and poison all their 
ways ? 

These things were beyond the province of His 
Majesty the King. He only knew that his father 
was daily absorbed in some mysterious work for 
a thing called the Sirkar and that his mother was 
the victim alternately of the Nautch and the Bur- 
rahhana. To these entertainments she was es- 
corted by a Captain-Man for whom His Majesty 
the King had no regard. 

" He doesnt laugh," he argued with Miss Bid- 
dums, who would fain have taught him charity. 
"He only makes faces wiv his mouf, and when 
he wants to o-muse me 1 am «o/o-mused." And 
His Majesty the King shook his head as one who 
knew the deceitfulness of this world. 

Morning and evening it was his duty to salute 
his father and mother — the former with a grave 
shake of the hand, and the latter with an equally 
grave kiss. Once, indeed, he had put his arms 
round his mother's neck, in the fashion he used 
toward Miss Biddums. The openwork of his 

504 Indian Tales 

sleeve-edge caught in an earring, and the last stage 
of His Majesty's little overture was a suppressed 
scream and summary dismissal to the nursery. 

"It's w'ong," thought His Majesty the King, 
"to hug Memsahibs wiv fmgs in veir ears. I 
will amember." He never repeated the experi- 

Miss Biddums, it must be confessed, spoiled him 
as much as his nature admitted, in some sort of 
recompense for what she called "the hard ways 
of his Papa and Mamm.a." She, like her charge, 
knew nothing of the trouble between man and 
wife — the savage contempt for a woman's stu- 
pidity on the one side, or the dull, rankling anger 
on the other. Miss Biddums had looked after 
many little children in her time, and served in 
many establishments. Being a discreet woman, 
she observed little and said less, and, when her 
pupils went over the sea to the Great Unknown 
which she, with touching confidence in her hear- 
ers, called "Home," packed up her slender be- 
longings and sought for employment afresh, lav- 
ishing all her love on each successive batch of in- 
grates. Only His Majesty the King had repaid 
her affection with interest; and in his uncompre- 
hending ears she had lold the tale of nearly all 
her hopes, her aspirations, the hopes that were 
dead, and the dazzling glories of her ancestral 
home in "Gz/cutta, close to Wellington Square." 

His Majesty the King 505 

Everything above the average was in the eyes 
of His Majesty the King " Calcutta good." When 
Miss Biddums had crossed his royal will, he re- 
versed the epithet to vex that estimable lady, 
and all things evil were, until the tears of repent- 
ance swept away spite, " Calcutta bad," 

ISow and again Miss Biddums begged for him 
the rare pleasure of a day in the society of the 
Commissioner's child — the wilful four-year-old 
Patsie, who, to the intense amazement of His 
Majesty the King, was idolized by her parents. 
On thinking the question out at length, by roads 
unknown to those who have left childhood be- 
hind, he came to the conclusion that Patsie was 
petted because she wore a big blue sash and yel- 
low hair. 

This precious discovery he kept to himself. 
The yellow hair was absolutely beyond his 
power, his ov/n tousled wig being potato-brown; 
but something might be done toward the blue 
sash. He tied a large knot in his mosquito-cur- 
tains in order to remember to consult Patsie on 
their next meeting. She was the only child he 
had ever spoken to, and almost the only one that 
he had ever seen. The little memory and the 
very large and ragged knot held good. 

"Patsie, lend me your blue wiband," said His 
Majesty the King. 

"You'll bewy it," said Patsie, doubtfully, 

5o6 Indian Tales 

mindful of certain fearful atrocities committed on 
her doll. 

"No, I won't — twoofanhonor. It's for me to 

"Pooh!" said Patsie. "Boys don't wear 
sa-ashes. Zey's only for dirls." 

" I didn't know." The face of His Majesty the 
King fell. 

"Who wants ribands.^ Are you playing 
horses, chickabiddies .?" said the Commissioner's 
wife, stepping into the veranda. 

"Toby wanted my sash," explained Patsie. 

"1 don't now," said His Majesty the King, 
hastily, feeling that with one of these terrible 
"grown-ups" his poor little secret would be 
shamelessly wrenched from him, and perhaps 
— most burning desecration of all — laughed at. 

"I'll give you a cracker-cap," said the Com- 
missioner's wife. "Come along with me, Toby, 
and we'll choose it." 

The cracker-cap was a stiff, three-pointed ver- 
milion-and-tinsel splendor. His Majesty the 
King fitted it on his royal brow. The Commis- 
sioner's wife had a face that children instinctively 
trusted, and her action, as she adjusted the top- 
pling middle spike, was tender. 

" Will it do as well } " stammered His Majesty 
the King. 

"As what, little one?" 

His Majesty the King 507 

"As ve wiban?" 

" Oh, quite. Go and look at yourself in the 

The words were spoken in all sincerity and to 
help forward any absurd "dressing-up " amuse- 
ment that the children might take into their 
minds. But the young savage has a keen sense 
of the ludicrous. His Majesty the King swung 
the great cheval-glass down, and saw his head 
crowned with the staring horror of a fool's cap — 
a thing which his father would rend to pieces if 
it ever came into his office. He plucked it off, 
and burst into tears. 

"Toby," said the Com.missioner's wife, 
gravely, "you shouldn't give way to temper. I 
am very sorry to see it. It's wrong." 

His Majesty the King sobbed inconsolably, and 
the heart of Patsie's mother was touched. She 
drew the child on to her knee. Clearly it was 
not temper alone. 

"What is it, Toby? Won't you tell me? 
Aren't you well?" 

The torrent of sobs and speech met, and 
fought for a time, with chokings and gulpings 
and gasps. Then, in a sudden rush, His Majesty 
the King was delivered of a few inarticulate 
sounds, followed by the words: — "Go a — way 
you — dirty — little debbil! " 

" Toby ! What do you mean ? " 

5o8 Indian Tales 

"It's what he'd say, I know it is! He said 
vat when vere was only a little, little eggy mess, 
on my t-t-unic; and he'd say it again, and laugh, 
if I went in wif vat on my head." 

"Who would say that?" 

" M-m-my Papa! And I fought if I had ve 
blue wiban, he'd let me play in ve waste-paper 
basket under ve table." 

" IVhat blue riband, childie ?" 

" Ve same vat Patsie had — ve big blue wiban 
w-w-wound my t-ttummy ! " 

"What is it, Toby.^ There's something on 
your mind. Tell me all about it, and perhaps I 
can help." 

"Isn't anyfing," sniffed His Majesty, mind- 
ful of his manhood, and raising his head from 
the motherly bosom upon which it was rest- 
ing. " I only fought vat you — you petted Patsie 
'cause she had ve blue wiban, and — and if I'd 
had ve blue wiban too, m-my Papa w-would pet 

The secret was out, and His Majesty the King 
sobbed bitterly in spite of the arms round him, 
and the murmur of comfort on his heated little 

Enter Patsie tumultuously, embarrassed by 
several lengths of the Commissioner's pet mah- 
seer-rod. " Tum along, Toby! Zere's a chu- 
chu lizard in ze chick, and I've told Chimo to 

His Majesty the King 509 

watch him till we turn. If we poke him wiz zis 
his tail will go wigg/e-uiggie Miid fall off. Tum 
along! I can't weach." 

"I'm comin'," said His Majesty the King, 
climbing down from the Commissioner's wife's 
knee after a hasty kiss. 

Two minutes later, the clm-chu lizard's tail was 
wriggling on the matting of the veranda, and the 
children v/ere gravely poking it with splinters 
from the chick, to urge its exhausted vitality into 
"just one wiggle more, 'cause it doesn't hurt 

The Commissioner's wife stood in the door- 
way and watched: — "Poor little mite! A blue 
sash . . . and my own precious Patsie! I 
wonder if the best of us, or we who love them 
best, ever understand what goes on in their topsy- 
turvy little heads." 

A big tear splashed on the Commissioner's 
wife's wedding-ring, and she went indoors to 
devise a tea for the benefit of His Majesty the 

"Their souls aren't in their tummies at that 
age in this climate," said the Commissioner's 
wife, "but they are not far off. I wonder if I 
could make Mrs. Austell understand. Poor little 
fellow! " 

With simple craft, the Commissioner's wife 
called on Mrs, Austell and spoke long and lov- 

5IO Indian Tales 

^ngly about children; inquiring specially for His 
Majesty the King. 

" He's with his governess,"' said Mrs. Austell, 
and the tone intimated that she was not inter- 

The Commissioner's wife, unskilled in the art 
of war, continued her questionings. "I don't 
know,'' said Mrs. Austell. "These things are 
left to Miss Biddums, and, of course, she does 
not ill-treat the child." 

The Commissioner's wife left hastily. The 
last sentence jarred upon her nerves. "Doesn't 
ill-treat the child! As if that were all! I won- 
der what Tom would say if 1 only ' didn't ill- 
treat' Patsie! " 

Thenceforward, His Majesty the King was an 
honored guest at the Commissioner's house, and 
the chosen friend of Patsie, with whom he blun- 
dered into as many scrapes as the compound and 
the servants' quarters afforded. Patsie's Mamma 
was always ready to give counsel, help, and 
sympathy, and, if need were and callers few, to 
enter into their games with an abandon that 
would have shocked the sleek-haired subalterns 
who squirm.ed painfully in their chairs v/hen they 
came to call on her whom they profanely nick- 
named "Mother Bunch." 

Yet, in spite of Patsie and Patsie's Mamma, 
and the love that these two lavished upon him. 

His Majesty the King 5 1 1 

His Majesty the King fell grievously from grace, 
and committed no less a sin than that of theft — 
unknown, it is true, but burdensome. 

There came a man to the door one day, when 
His Majesty was playing in the hall and the 
bearer had gone to dinner, with a packet for 
his Majesty's Mamma. And he put it upon the 
hall-table, said that there was no answer, and 

Presently, the pattern of the dado ceased to in- 
terest His Majesty, while the packet, a white, 
neatly wrapped one of fascinating shape, inter- 
ested him very much indeed. His Mamma was 
out, so was Miss Biddums, and there was pink 
string round the packet. He greatly desired pink 
string. I' would help him in many of his little 
businesses — the haulage across the floor of his 
small cane-chair, the torturing of Chimo, who 
could never understand harness — and so forth. 
If he took the string it would be his own, and 
nobody would be any the wiser. He certainly 
could not pluck up sufficient courage to ask 
Mamma for it. Wherefore, mounting upon a 
chair, he carefully untied the string and, behold, 
the stiff white paper spread out in four direc- 
tions, and revealed a beautiful little leather box 
with gold lines upon it! He tried to replace the 
string, but that was a failure. So he opened the 
box to get full satisfaction for his iniquity, and 

512 Indian Tales 

saw a most beautiful Star that shone and winked, 
and was altogether lovely and desirable. 

"Vat," said His Majesty, meditatively, "is a 
'parkle cwov/n, like what 1 will wear v/hen 1 go 
to heaven. I will wear it on my head — Miss 
Biddums says so. I would like to wear it now. 
I would like to play wiv it. 1 will take it away 
and play wiv it, very careful, until Mamma asks 
for it. 1 fink it was bought for me to play wiv 
— same as my cart." 

His Majesty the King was arguing against his 
conscience, and he knew it, for he thought im- 
mediately after: "Never mind. I will keep it to 
play wiv until Mamma says where is it, and then 
1 will say: — 'I tookt it and I am sorry.' 1 will 
not hurt it because it is a 'parkle cwown. But 
Miss Biddums will tell me to put it back. I will 
ir.ot shov il to Miss Biddums." 

If Mamma had come in at that moment all 
would have gone well. She did not, and His 
Majesty the King stuffed paper, case, and jewel 
into the breast of his blouse and marched to the 

"When Mamma asks I will tell," was the salve 
that he laid upon his conscience. But Mamma 
never asked, and for three whole days His Majesty 
the King gloated over his treasure. It M^as of no 
earthly use to him, but it was splendid, and, for 
aught he knew, something dropped from the 

His Majesty the King 5 1 3 

heavens themselves. Still Mamma made no in- 
quiries, and it seemed to him, in his furtive 
peeps, as though the shiny stones grew dim. 
What was the use of a 'parkle cwown if it made 
a little boy feel all bad in his inside.? He had the 
pink string as well as the other treasure, but 
greatly he wished that he had not gone beyond 
the string, it was his first experience of iniq- 
uity, and it pained him after the flush of posses- 
sion and secret delight in the "'parkle cwown" 
had died away. 

Each day that he delayed rendered confession 
to the people beyond the nursery doors more im- 
possible. Now and again he determined to put 
himself in the path of the beautifully attired lady 
as she was going out, and explain that he and no 
one else was the possessor of a " 'parkle cwown," 
most beautiful and quite uninquired for. But she 
passed hurriedly to her carriage, and the oppor- 
tunity was gone before His Majesty the King 
could draw the deep breath which clinches noble 
resolve. The dread secret cut him off from Miss 
Biddums, Patsie, and the Commissioner's wife, 
and — doubly hard fate — when he brooded over it 
Patsie said, and told her mother, that he was 

The days were very long to His Majesty the 
King, and the nights longer still. Miss Biddums 
had informed him, m.ore than once, what was 

514 Indian Tales 

the ultimate destiny of "fieves," and when he 
passed the interminable mud flanks of the Cen- 
tral Jail, he shook in his little strapped shoes. 

But release came after an afternoon spent in 
playing boats by the edge of the tank at the bot- 
tom of the garden. His Majesty the King went 
to tea, and, for the first time in his memory, the 
meal revolted him. His nose was very cold, and 
his cheeks were burning hot. There was a 
weight about his feet, and he pressed his head 
several times to make sure that it was not swell- 
ing as he sat. 

"1 feel vevy funny," said His Majesty the 
King, rubbing his nose. " Vere's a buzz-buzz 
in my head." 

He went to bed quietly. Miss Biddums was 
out and the bearer undressed him. 

The sin of the "'parkle cwown " was forgot- 
ten in the acuteness of the discomfort to which 
he roused after a leaden sleep of some hours. 
He was thirsty, and the bearer had forgotten to 
leave the drinking-water. "Miss Biddums! 
Miss Biddums! I'm so kirsty! " 

No answer. Miss Biddums had leave to attend 
the wedding of a Calcutta schoolmate. His Maj- 
esty the King had forgotten that. 

"I want a dwink of water! " he cried- but his 
voice was dried up in his throat. "I want a 
dwink! Vere is ve glass } " 

His Majesty the King 515 

He sat up in bed and looked round. There 
was a murmur of voices from the other side of 
the nursery door. It was better to face the ter- 
rible unknown than to choke in the dark. He 
slipped out of bed, but his feet were strangely 
wilful, and he reeled once or twice. Then he 
pushed the door open and staggered — a puffed 
and purple-faced little figure — into the brilliant 
light of the dining-room full of pretty ladies. 

"I'm vevy hot! I'm vevy uncomfitivle," 
moaned His Majesty the King, clinging to the 
portiere, "andvere's no water in ve glass, and 
I'm so kirsty. Give me a dwink of water." 

An apparition in black and white — His Maj- 
esty the King could hardly see distinctly — lifted 
him up to the level of the table, and felt his 
wrists and forehead. The water came, and he 
drank deeply, his teeth chattering against the 
edge of the tumbler. Then every one seemed to 
go away — every one except the huge man in 
black and white, who carried him back to his 
bed; the mother and father following. And the 
sin of the " 'parkle cwown " rushed back and 
took possession of the terrified soul. 

"I'm a fief!" he gasped. "I want to tell 
Miss Biddums vat I'm a fief. Vere is Miss Bid- 

Miss Biddums had come and was bending over 
him. "I'm a fief," he whispered. "A tlef— 

5i6 Indian Tales 

like ve men in tlie pwison. But I'll tell now. I 
tookt ... I tookt ve 'parkle cwown when 
the man that came left it in ve hall. I bwoke ve 
paper and ve little bwown box, and it looked 
shiny, and 1 tookt it to play wif, and I was 
afwaid. It's in ve dooly-box at ve bottom. No 
one never asked for it, but I was afwaid. Oh, 
go an' get ve dooly-box!" 

Miss Biddums obediently stooped to the lowest 
shelf of the alniirah and unearthed the big paper 
box in which His Majesty the King kept his dear- 
est possessions. Under the tin soldiers, and a 
layer of mud pellets for a pellet-bow, winked 
and blazed a diamond star, wrapped roughly in a 
half-sheet of note-paper whereon were a few 

Somebody was crying at the head of the bed, 
/Lwd a man's hand touched the forehead of His 
Majesty the King, who grasped the packet and 
spread it on the bed. 

" Vat is ve 'parkle cwown," he said, and wept 
bitterly; for now that he had made restitution he 
would fain have kept the shining splendor with 

" It concerns you too," said a voice at the head 
of the bed. "Read the note. This is not the 
time to keep back anything." 

The note was curt, very much to the point, 
and signed by a single initial. " If you wear this 

His Majesty the King 517 

to-7norrow night I shall know -what to expect." 
The date was three weeks old. 

A whisper followed, and the deeper voice re- 
turned: " And you drifted as far apart as that ! 
I think it makes us quits now, doesn't it? Oh, 
can'l we drop this folly once and for all ? Is it 
worth it, darling?" 

"Kiss me too," said His Majesty the King, 
dreamily. "You isn't vevy angwy, is you ? " 

The fever burned itself out, and His Majesty 
the King slept. 

When he waked, it was in a new world — 
peopled by his father and mother as well as Miss 
Biddums: and there was much love in that world 
and no morsel of fear, and more petting than was 
good for several little boys. His Majesty the 
King was too young to moralize on the uncer- 
tainty of things human, or he would have been 
impressed with the singular advantages of crime 
^ay, black sin. Behold, he had stolen the 
"'parkle cwown," and his reward was Love, 
and the right to play in the waste-paper basket 
under the table " for always."' 

He trotted over to spend an afternoon with 
Patsie, and the Commissioner's wife would have 
kissed him. "No, not vere," said His Majesty 
the King, with superb insolence, fencing one 


Indian Tales 

corner of his mouth with his hand. "Vat's my 
Mamma's place — vere she l<.isses me." 

"Oh!" said the Commissioner's wife, briefly. 
Then to herself: '• Well, I suppose I ought to be 
glad for his sake. Children are selfish little 
grubs and— I've got my Patsie." 


Alive or dead — there is no other way. — Native Proverb. 

THERE is, as the conjurers say, no deception 
about this tale. Jukes by accident stum- 
bled upon a village that is well known to exist, 
though he is the only Englishman who has been 
there. A somewhat similar institution used to 
tlourish on the outskirts of Calcutta, and there is 
a story that if you go into the heart of Bikanir, 
which is in the heart of the Great Indian Desert, 
you shall come across not a village but a town 
where the Dead who did not die but may not 
live have established their headquarters. And, 
since it is perfectly true that in the same Desert 
is a wonderful city where all the rich money- 
lenders retreat after they have made their for- 
tunes (fortunes so vast that the owners cannot 
trust even the strong hand of the Government to 
protect them, but take refuge in the waterless 
sands), and drive sumptuous C-spring barouches, 
and buy beautiful girls and decorate their palaces 
with gold and ivory and Minton tiles and mother- 
o'-pearl, I do not see why Jukes's tale should not 

520 Indian Tales 

be true. He Is a Civil Engineer, with a head for 
plans and distances and things of that kind, and 
he certainly would not take the trouble to invent 
imaginary traps. He could earn more by doing 
his legitimate work. He never varies the tale in 
the telling, and grows very hot and indignant 
when he thinks of the disrespectful treatment he 
received. He wrote this quite straightforwardly 
at first, but he has since touched it up in places 
and introduced Moral Reflections, thus: 

In the beginning it all arose from a slight at- 
tack of fever. My work necessitated my being 
in camp for some months between Pakpattan 
and Mubarakpur — a desolate sandy stretch of 
country as every one who has had the misfor- 
tune to go there may know. My coolies were 
neither more nor less exasperating than other 
gangs, and my work demanded sufficient atten- 
tion to keep me from moping, had I been in- 
clined to so unmanly a weakness. 

On the 23d December, 1884, 1 felt a little fever- 
ish. There was a full moon at the time, and, in 
consequence, every dog near my tent was baying 
it. The brutes assembled in twos and threes and 
drove me frantic. A few days previously I had 
shot one loud-mouthed singer and suspended his 
carcass in terror em about fifty yards from my 
tent-door. But his friends fell upon, fought for, 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbt'e Jukes 5 2 1 

and ultimately devoured the body: and, as it 
seemed to me, sang their hymns of thanksgiving 
afterward with renewed energy. 

The light-headedness which accompanies fever 
acts differently on different men. My irritation 
gave way, after a short time, to a fixed deter- 
mination to slaughter one huge black and white 
beast who had been foremost in song and first 
in flight throughout the evening. Thanks to a 
shaking hand and a giddy head I had already 
missed him twice with both barrels of my shot- 
gun, when it struck me that my best plan would 
be to ride him down in the open and finish him 
off with a hog-spear. This, of course, was 
merely the semi-delirious notion of a fever pa- 
tient; but I remember that it struck me at the 
time as being eminently practical and feasible. 

I therefore ordered my groom to saddle Pornic 
and bring him round quietly to the rear of my 
tent. When the pony was ready, I stood at his 
head prepared to mount and dash out as soon as 
the dog should again lift up his voice. Pornic, 
by the way, had not been out of his pickets for 
a couple of days; the night air was crisp and 
chilly; and I was armed with a specially long 
and sharp pair of persuaders with which I had 
been rousing a sluggish cob that afternoon. You 
will easily believe, then, that when he was let go 
he went quickly. In one moment, for the brute 

522 fndian 1 ales 

bolted as straight as a die, the tent was left far 
behind, and we were flying over the smooth 
sandy soil at racing speed. In another we had 
passed the wretched dog, and 1 had almost for- 
gotten why it was that I had taken horse and 

The delirium of fever and the excitement of 
rapid motion through the air must have taken 
away the remnant of my senses. I have a faint 
recollection of standing upright in my stirrups, 
and of brandishing my hog-spear at the great 
white Moon that looked down so calmly on my 
mad gallop; and of shouting challenges to the 
camel-thorn bushes as they whizzed past. Once 
or twice, I believe, I swayed forward on Pornic's 
neck, and literally hung on by my spurs — as the 
marks next morning showed. 

The wretched beast went forward like a thing 
possessed, over what seemed to be a limitless 
expanse of moonlit sand. Next, I remember, 
the ground rose suddenly in front of us, and as 
we topped the ascent I saw the waters of the 
Sutlej shining like a silver bar below. Then 
Pornic blundered heavily on his nose, and we 
rolled together down some unseen slope. 

I must have lost consciousness, for when I re- 
covered 1 was lying on my stomach in a heap of 
soft white sand, and the dawn was beginning to 
break dimly over the edge of the slope down 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Juhes 523 

which I had fallen. As the light grew stronger 1 
saw that I was at the bottom of a horseshoe- 
shaped crater of sand, opening on one side di- 
rectly on to the shoals of the Sutlej. My fever 
had altogether left me, and, with the exception 
of a slight dizziness in the head, I felt no bad ef- 
fects from the fall over night. 

Pornic, who was standing a few yards away, 
was naturally a good deal exhausted, but had not 
hurt himself in the least. His saddle, a favorite 
polo one, was much knocked about, and had been 
twisted under his belly. It took me some time 
to put him to rights, and in the meantime I had 
ample opportunities of observing the spot into 
which 1 had so foolishly dropped. 

At the risk of being considered tedious, I must 
describe it at length; inasmuch as an accurate 
mental picture of its peculiarities will be of ma- 
terial assistance in enabling the reader to under- 
stand what follows. 

Imagine then, as I have said before, a horse- 
shoe-shaped crater of sand with steeply graded 
sand walls about thirty -five feet high. (The 
slope, I fancy, must have been about 65°.) This 
crater enclosed a level piece of ground about fifty 
yards long by thirty at its broadest part, with a 
rude well in the centre. Round the bottom of 
the crater, about three feet from the level of the 
ground proper, ran a series of eighty-three semi- 

5 24 Indian Tales 

circular, ovoid, square, and multilateral holes, all 
about three feet at the mouth. Each hole on in- 
spection showed that it was carefully shored in- 
ternally with drift-wood and bamboos, and over 
the mouth a wooden drip-board projected, like 
the peak of a jockey's cap, for two feet. No 
sign of life was visible in these tunnels, but a 
most sickening stench pervaded the entire am- 
phitheatre — a stench fouler than any which my 
wanderings in Indian villages have introduced 
me to. 

Having remounted Pornic, who was as anxious 
as 1 to get back to camp, I rode round the base of 
the horseshoe to find some place whence an exit 
would be practicable. The inhabitants, whoever 
they might be, had not thought fit to put in an 
appearance, so 1 was left to my own devices. 
My first attempt to "rush" Pornic up the steep 
sand-banks showed me that I had fallen into a 
trap exactly on the same model as that which the 
ant-lion sets for its prey. At each step the shift- 
ing sand poured down from above in tons, and 
rattled on the drip-boards of the holes like small 
shot. A couple of ineffectual charges sent us 
both rolling down to the bottom, half choked 
with the torrents of sand; and I was constrained 
to turn my attention to the river-bank. 

Here everything seemed easy enough. The 
sand hills ran down to the river edge, it is true. 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 525 

but ihere were plenty of shoals and shallows 
across which 1 could gallop Pornic, and find my 
way back to terra firma by turning sharply to 
the right or the left. As 1 led Pornic over the 
sands 1 was startled by the faint pop of a rifle 
across the river; and at the same momenta bullet 
dropped with a sharp ''whit" close to Pornic's 

There was no mistaking the nature of the 
missile — a regulation Martini-Henry "picket." 
About five hundred yards away a country-boat 
was anchored in midstream ; and a jet of smoke 
drifting away from its bows in the still morning 
air showed me whence the delicate attention had 
come. Was ever a respectable gentleman in 
such an impasse? The treacherous sand slope 
allowed no escape from a spot which I had 
visited most involuntarily, and a promenade on 
the river frontage was the signal for a bombard- 
ment from some insane native in a boat. I'm 
afraid that I lost my temper very much indeed. 

Another bullet reminded me that I had better 
save my breath to cool my porridge; and I re- 
treated hastily up the sands and back to the 
horseshoe, where I saw that the noise of the rifle 
had drawn sixty-five human beings from the 
badger-holes which I had up till that point sup- 
posed to be untenanted. 1 found myself in the 
midst of a crowd of spectators — about forty men, 

526 Indian Tales 

twenty women, and one child who could not 
have been more than five years old. They were 
all scantily clothed in that salmon-colored cloth 
which one associates with Hindu mendicants, 
and, at first sight, gave me the impression of a 
band of loathsome fakirs. The filth and repul- 
siveness of the assembly were beyond all des- 
cription, and I shuddered to think what their life 
in the badger-holes must be. 

Even in these days, when local self-govern- 
ment has destroyed the greater part of a native's 
respect for a Sahib, I have been accustomed to a 
certain amount of civility from my inferiors, and 
on approaching the crowd naturally expected 
that there would be some recognition of my 
presence. As a matter of fact there was; but it 
was by no means what I had looked for. 

The ragged crew actually laughed at me — such 
laughter I hope 1 may never hear again. They 
cackled, yelled, whistled, and howled as I walked 
into their midst; some of them literally throwing 
themselves down on the ground in convulsions 
of unholy mirth. In a moment I had let go 
Pornic's head, and, irritated beyond expression at 
the morning's adventure, commenced cuffing 
those nearest to me with all the force I could. 
The wretches dropped under my blows like 
nine-pins, and the laughter gave place to wails 
for mercy; while those yet untouched clasped 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 527 

me round the knees, imploring me in all sorts of 
uncouth tongues to spare them. 

In the tumult, and just when I was feeling very 
much ashamed of myself for having thus easily 
given way to my temper, a thin, high voice mur- 
mured in English from behind my shoulder: — 
"Sahib! Sahib! Do you not know me? Sahib, 
it is Gunga Dass, the telegraph-master." 

I spun round quickly and faced the speaker. 

Gunga Dass (I have, of course, no hesitation in 
mentioning the man's real name) 1 had known 
four years before as a Deccanee Brahmin loaned 
by the Punjab Government to one of the Khalsia 
States. He was in charge of a branch telegraph- 
office there, and when I had last met him was a 
jovial, full-stomached, portly Government serv- 
ant with a marvelous capacity for making bad 
puns in English — a peculiarity which made me 
remember him long after I had forgotten his 
services to me in his official capacity. It is sel- 
dom that a Hindu makes English puns. 

Now, however, the man was changed beyond 
all recognition. Caste-mark, stomach, slate-col- 
ored continuations, and unctuous speech were all 
gone. I looked at a withered skeleton, turban- 
less and almost naked, with long matted hair 
and deep-set codfish-eyes. But for a crescent- 
shaped scar on the left cheek — the result of an 
accident for which I was responsible — I should 

528 Indian Tales 

never have knov/n him. But it was indubitably 
Gunga Dass, and — for this 1 was thankful — an 
English-speaking native who might at least tell 
me the meaning of all that 1 had gone through 
that day. 

The crowd retreated to some distance as I 
turned toward the miserable figure, and ordered 
him to show me some method of escaping from 
the crater. He held a freshly plucked crow in 
his hand, and in reply to my question climbed 
slowly on a platform of sand which ran in front 
of the holes, and commenced lighting a fire there 
in silence. Dried bents, sand-poppies, and drift- 
wood burn quickly; and 1 derived much consola- 
tion from the fact that he lit them with an ordi- 
nary sulphur-match. When they were in a bright 
glow, and the crow was neatly spitted in front 
thereof, Gunga Dass began without a word of 

"There are only two kinds of men, Sar. The 
alive and the dead. When you are dead you are 
dead, but when you are alive you live." (Here 
the crow demanded his attention for an instant 
as it twirled before the fire in danger of being 
burned to a cinder.) "If you die at home and 
do not die when you come to the ghat to be 
burned you come here." 

The nature of the reeking village was made 
plain now, and all that I had known or read of 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 529 

the grotesque and the horrible paled before the 
fact just communicated by the ex-Brahmin. Six- 
teen years ago, when I first landed in Bombay, I 
had been told by a wandering Armenian of the 
existence, somewhere in India, of a place to 
which such Hindus as had the misfortune to re- 
cover from trance or catalepsy were conveyed 
and kept, and 1 recollect laughing heartily at 
what 1 was then pleased to consider a traveler's 
tale. Sitting at the bottom of the sand-trap, the 
memory of Watson's Hotel, with its swinging 
punkahs, white-robed attendants, and the sal- 
low-faced Armenian, rose up in my mind as viv- 
idly as a photograph, and I burst into a loud fit 
of laughter. The contrast was too absurd! 

Gunga Dass, as he bent over the unclean bird, 
watched me curiously. Hindus seldom laugh, 
and his surroundings were not such as to move 
Gunga Dass to any undue excess of hilarity. He 
removed the crow solemnly from the wooden 
spit and as solemnly devoured it. Then he con- 
tinued his story, which I give in his own words: 

"In epidemics of the cholera you are carried 
to be burned almost before you are dead. When 
you come to the riverside the cold air, perhaps, 
makes you alive, and then, if you are only little 
alive, mud is put on your nose and mouth and 
you die conclusively. If you are rather more 
alive, more mud is put; but if you are too lively 

530 Indian Tales 

they let you go and take you away. I was too 
lively, and made protestation with anger against 
the indignities that they endeavored to press 
upon me. In those days I was Brahmin and 
proud man. Now I am dead man and eat" — 
here he eyed the well-gnawed breast bone with 
the first sign of emotion that 1 had seen in him 
since we met — " crows, and other things. They 
took me from my sheets when they saw that I 
was too lively and gave me medicines for one 
week, and I survived successfully. Then they 
sent me by rail from my place to Okara Station, 
with a man to take care of me; and at Okara 
Station we met two other men, and they con- 
ducted we three on camels, in the night, from 
Okara Station to this place, and they propelled 
me from the top to the bottom, and the other 
two succeeded, and I have been here ever since 
two and a half years. Once I was Brahmin and 
proud man, and now I eat crows." 

" There is no way of getting out ? " 

" None of what kind at all. When 1 first came 
I made experiments frequently and all the others 
also, but we have always succumbed to the sand 
which is precipitated upon our heads." 

"But surely," I broke in at this point, "the 
river-front is open, and it is worth while dodg- 
ing the bullets; while at night " — 

I had already matured a rough plan of escape 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 53 1 

which a natural instinct of selfishness forbade 
me sharing with Gunga Dass. He, however, di- 
vined my unspoken thought almost as soon as it 
was formed; and, to my intense astonishment, 
gave vent to a long low chuckle of derision — the 
laughter, be it understood, of a superior or at 
least of an equal. 

" You will not " — he had dropped the Sir com- 
pletely after his opening sentence — "make any 
escape that way. But you can try. 1 have tried. 
Once only." 

The sensation of nameless terror and abject 
fear which 1 had in vain attempted to strive 
against overmastered me completely. My long 
fast — it was now close upon ten o'clock, and I 
had eaten nothing since tiffin on the previous 
day — combined with the violent and unnatural 
agitation of the ride had exhausted me, and I 
verily believe that, for a few minutes, I acted as 
one mad. 1 hurled myself against the pitiless 
sand-slope. I ran round the base of the crater, 
blaspheming and praying by turns. 1 crawled 
out among the sedges of the river-front, only to 
be driven back each time in an agony of nervous 
dread by the rifle-bullets which cut up the sand 
round me — for 1 dared not face the death of a 
mad dog among that hideous crowd — and finally 
fell, spent and raving, at the curb of the well. 
No one had taken the slightest notice of an ex- 

532 Indian Tales 

hibition which makes me blush hotly even when 
I think of it now. 

Two or three men trod on my panting body as 
they drew water, but they were evidently used 
to this sort of thing, and had no time to waste 
upon me. The situation was humiliating. Gunga 
Dass, indeed, when he had banked the embers of 
his fire with sand, was at some pains to throw 
half a cupful of fetid water over my head, an 
attention for which I could have fallen on my 
knees and thanked him, but he was laughing all 
the while in the same mirthless, wheezy key that 
greeted me on my first attempt to force the 
shoals. And so, in a semi-comatose condition, I 
lay till noon. Then, being only a man after all, I 
felt hungry, and intimated as much to Gunga 
Dass, whom I had begun to regard as my natural 
protector. Following the impulse of the outer 
world when dealing with natives, I put my hand 
into my pocket and drew out four annas. The 
absurdity of the gift struck me at once, and I was 
about to replace the money. 

Gunga Dass, however, was of a different 
opinion. "Give me the money," said he; "all 
you have, or I will get help, and we will kill 
you!" All this as if it were the most natural 
thing in the world! 

A Briton's first impulse, I believe, is to guard 
the contents of his pockets; but a moment's re- 

The Strange Ride of Morroivbie Jukes 533 

flection convinced me of the futility of differing 
with the one man who had it in his power to 
make me comfortable; and with whose help it 
was possible that I might eventually escape from 
the crater. I gave him all the money in my 
possession, Rs. 9-8-5 — nine rupees eight annas 
and five pie — for I always keep small change as 
bakshish when I am in camp. Gunga Dass 
clutched the coins, and hid them at once in his 
ragged loin-cloth, his expression changing to 
something diabolical as he looked round to assure 
himself that no one had observed uj. 

" Now I will give you something to eat," 
said he. 

What pleasure the possession of my money 
could have afforded him I am unable to say; but 
inasmuch as it did give him evident delight I 
was not sorry that 1 had parted with it so readily, 
for I had no doubt that he would have had me 
killed if I had refused. One does not protest 
against the vagaries of a den of wild beasts; and 
my companions were lower than any beasts. 
While I devoured what Gunga Dass had pro- 
vided, a coarse chapatti and a cupful of the foul 
well-water, the people showed not the faintest 
sign of curiosity — that curiosity which is so 
rampant, as a rule, in an Indian village. 

I could even fancy that they despised me. At 
all events they treated me with the most chilling 

534 Indian Tales 

indifference, and Gunga Dass was nearly as bad. 
I plied him with questions about the terrible 
village, and received extremely unsatisfactory 
answers. So far as I could gather, it had been in 
existence from time immemorial — whence I con- 
cluded that it was at least a century old — and 
during that time no one had ever been known to 
escape from it. [1 had to control myself here 
with both hands, lest the blind terror should lay 
hold of me a second time and drive me raving 
round the crater.] Gunga Dass took a malicious 
pleasure in emphasizing this point and in watch- 
ing me wince. Nothing that 1 could do would 
induce him to tell me who the mysterious 
" They" were. 

"It is so ordered," he would reply, "and I 
do not yet know any one who has disobeyed the 
orders." . 

"Only wait till my servants find that I am 
missing," I retorted, "and I promise you that 
this place shall be cleared off the face of the 
earth, and I'll give you a lesson in civility, too, 
my friend." 

"Your servants would be torn in pieces 
before they came near this place; and, besides, 
you are dead, my dear friend, it is not your 
fault, of course, but none the less you are dead 
and buried." 

At irregular intervals supplies of food, I was 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 535 

told, were dropped down from the land side into 
the amphitheatre, and the inhabitants fought for 
them like wild beasts. When a man felt his 
death coming on he retreated to his lair and died 
there. The body was dragged out of 
the hole and thrown on to the sand, or allowed 
to rot where it lay. 

The phrase "thrown on to the sand" caught 
my attention, and 1 asked Gunga Dass whether 
this sort of thing was not likely to breed a pesti- 

"That," said he, with another of his wheezy 
chuckles, "you may see for yourself subse- 
quently. You will have much time to make 

Whereat, to his great delight, I winced once 
more and hastily continued the conversation: — 
"And how do you live here from day to day? 
What do you do } " The question elicited ex- 
actly the same answer as before — coupled with 
the information that "this place is like your 
European heaven; there is neither marrying nor 
giving in marriage." 

Gunga Dass has been educated at a Mission 
School, and, as he himself admitted, had he only 
changed his religion "like a wise man," might 
have avoided the living grave which was now his 
portion. But as long as I was with him 1 fancy 
he was happy. 

536 Indian Tales 

Here was a Sahib, a representative of the 
dominant race, helpless as a child and completely 
at the mercy of his native neighbors. In a de- 
liberate lazy way he set himself to torture me as 
a schoolboy would devote a rapturous half-hour 
to watching the agonies of an impaled beetle, or 
as a ferret in a blind burrow might glue himself 
comfortably to the neck of a rabbit. The burden 
of his conversation was that there was no escape 
"of no kind whatever," and that I should stay 
here till I died and was "thrown on to the sand." 
If it were possible to forejudge the conversation 
of the Damned on the advent of a new soul in 
their abode, I should say that they would speak 
as Gunga Dass did to me throughout that long 
afternoon. I was powerless to protest or an- 
swer; all my energies being devoted to a struggle 
against the inexplicable terror that threatened to 
overwhelm me again and again. 1 can compare 
the feeling to nothing except the struggles of a 
man against the overpowering nausea of the 
Channel passage — only my agony was of the 
spirit and infinitely more terrible. 

As the day wore on, the inhabitants began to 
appear in full strength to catch the rays 0/ the 
afternoon sun, which were now sloping in at the 
mouth of the crater. They assembled in little 
knots, and talked among themselves without 
even throwing a glance in my direction. About 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 537 

four o'clock, as far as I could judge, Gunga Dass 
rose and dived into his lair for a moment, 
emerging with a live crow in his hands. The 
wretched bird was in a most draggled and 
deplorable condition, but seemed to be in no way 
afraid of its master. Advancing cautiously to the 
river front, Gunga Dass stepped from tussock to 
tussock until he had reached a smooth patch of 
sand directly in the line of the boat's fire. The 
occupants of the boat took no notice. Here he 
stopped, and, with a couple of dexterous turns 
of the wrist, pegged the bird on its back with 
outstretched wings. As was only natural, the 
crow began to shriek at once and beat the air 
with its claws. In a few seconds the clamor had 
attracted the attention of a bevy of wild crows 
on a shoal a few hundred yards away, where 
they were discussing something that looked like 
a corpse. Half a dozen crows flew over at once 
to see what was going on, and also, as it proved, 
to attack the pinioned bird. Gunga Dass, who 
had lain down on a tussock, motioned to me 
to be quiet, though I fancy this was a need- 
less precaution. In a moment, and before I 
could see how it happened, a wild crow, who 
had grappled with the shrieking and helpless 
bird, was entangled in the latter's claws, swiftly 
disengaged by Gunga Dass, and pegged down 
beside its companion in adversity. Curiosity, it 

538 Indian Tales 

seemed, overpowered me rest of the flock, and 
almost before Gunga Dass and I had time to 
withdraw to the tussock, two more captives 
were struggling in the upturned claws of the 
decoys. So the chase — if I can give it so digni- 
fied a name — continued until Gunga Dass had 
captured seven crows. Five of them he throttled 
at once, reserving two for further operations an- 
other day. I was a good deal impressed by this, 
to me, novel method of securing food, and com- 
plimented Gunga Dass on his skill. 

"It is nothing to do," said he. "To-morrow 
you must do it for me. You are stronger than I 

This calm assumption of superiority upset me 
not a little, and I answered peremptorily; — " In- 
deed, you old ruffian! What do you think I 
have given you money for ?" 

"Very well," was the unmoved reply. " Per- 
haps not to-morrow, nor the day after, nor 
subsequently; but in the end, and for many 
years, you will catch crows and eat crows, and 
you will thank your European God that you have 
crov/s to catch and eat." 

I could have cheerfully strangled him for this; 
but judged it best under the circumstances to 
smother my resentment. An hour later I was 
eating one of the crows; and, as Gunga Dass 
had said, thanking my God that I had a crow to 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 5 39 

eat. Never as long as I live shall I forget that 
evening meal. The whole population were 
squatting on the hard sand platform opposite 
their dens, huddled over tiny fires of refuse and 
dried rushes. Death, having once laid his hand 
upon these men and forborne to strike, seemed 
to stand aloof from them now; for most of our 
company were old men, bent and worn and 
twisted with years, and women aged to all ap- 
pearance as the Fates themselves. They sat to- 
gether in knots and talked — God only knows 
what they found to discuss — in low equable 
tones, curiously in contrast to the strident babble 
with which natives are accustomed to make day 
hideous. Now and then an access of that sudden 
fury which had possessed me in the morning 
would lay hold on a man or woman; and with 
yells and imprecations the sufferer would attack 
the steep slope until, baffled and bleeding, he fell 
back on the platform incapable of moving a 
limb. The others would never even raise their 
eyes when this happened, as men too well aware 
of the futility of their fellows' attempts and 
wearied with their useless repetition. 1 saw four 
such outbursts in the course of that evening. 

Gunga Dass took an eminently business-like 
view of my situation, and while we were dining 
—I can afford to laugh at the recollection now, 
but it was painful enough at the time — pro- 

540 Indian Tales 

pounded the terms on which he would consent 
to "do" for me. My nine rupees eight annas, 
he argued, at the rate of three annas a day, would 
provide me with food for fifty-one days, or about 
seven weeks; that is to say, he would be willing 
to cater for me for that length of time. At the 
end of it I was to look after myself. For a fur- 
ther consideration — videlicet my boots — he would 
be willing to allow me to occupy the den next 
to his own, and would supply me with as much 
dried grass for bedding as he could spare. 

" Very well, Gunga Dass," 1 replied; "to the 
first terms 1 cheerfully agree, but, as there is 
nothing on earth to prevent my killing you as you 
sit here and taking everything that you have" (I 
thought of the two invaluable crows at the time), 
"1 fiatly refuse to give you my boots and shall 
take whichever den I please." 

The stroke was a bold one, and I was glad 
when I saw that it had succeeded. Gunga Dass 
changed his tone immediately, and disavowed 
all intention of asking for my boots. At the 
time it did not strike me as at all strange that I, a 
Civil Engineer, a man of thirteen years' standing 
in the Service, and, I trust, an average English- 
man, should thus calmly threaten murder and 
violence against the man who had, for a con- 
sideration it is true, taken me under his wing. I 
had left the world, it seemed, for centuries. I 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 54: 

was as certain then as I am now of my own ex- 
istence, that in the accursed settlement there was 
no law save that of the strongest; that the living 
dead men had thrown behind them every canon 
of the world which had cast them out; and that 
I had to depend for my own life on my strength 
and vigilance alone. The crew of the ill-fated 
Mignonette are the only men who would under- 
stand my frame of mind. "At present," 1 
argued to myself, " I am strong and a match for 
six of these wretches. It is imperatively neces- 
sary that 1 should, for my own sake, keep both 
health and strength until the hour of my release 
comes — if it ever does." 

Fortified with these resolutions, I ate and drank 
as much as 1 could, and made Gunga Dass under- 
stand that I intended to be his master, and that 
the least sign of insubordination on his part 
would be visited with the only punishment 1 had 
it in my power to inflict — sudden and violent 
death. Shortly after this I went to bed. That is 
to say, Gunga Dass gave me a double armful of 
dried bents which I thrust down the mouth of 
the lair to the right of his, and followed myself, 
feet foremost; the hole running about nine feet 
into the sand with a slight downward inclination, 
and being neatly shored with timbers. From my 
den, which faced the river-front, I was able to 
watch the waters of the Sutlej flowing past under 

542 Indian Tales 

the light of a young moon and compose myself 
to sleep as best 1 might. 

The horrors of that night I shall never forget. 
My den was nearly as narrow as a coffm, and the 
sides had been worn smooth and greasy by the 
contact of innumerable naked bodies, added to 
which it smelled abominably. Sleep was alto- 
gether out of question to one in my excited frame 
of mind. As the night wore on, it seemed that 
the entire amphitheatre was filled with legions of 
unclean devils that, trooping up from the shoals 
below, mocked the unfortunates in their lairs. 

Personally I am not of an imaginative tempera- 
ment, — very few Engineers are, — but on that 
occasion I was as completely prostrated with 
nervous terror as any y/oman. After half an 
hour or so, however, I was able once more to 
calmly review my chances of escape. Any exit 
by the steep sand walls was, of course, impracti- 
cable. 1 had been thoroughly convinced of this 
some time before. It was possible, just possible, 
that I might, in the uncertain moonlight, safely 
run the gauntlet of the rifle shots. The place 
was so full of terror for me that I was prepared 
to undergo any risk in leaving it. Imagine my 
delight, then, when after creeping stealthily to 
the river-front I found that the infernal boat was 
not there. My freedom lay before me in the 
next few steps! 

The Strange Ride of Morrow bte Jukes 543 

By walking out to the first shallow pool that 
lay at the foot of the projecting left horn of the 
horseshoe, I could wade across, turn the flank of 
the crater, and make my way inland. Without 
a moment's hesitation I marched briskly past the 
tussocks where Gunga Dass had snared the 
crows, and out in the direction of the smooth 
white sand beyond. My first step from the tufts 
of dried grass showed me how utterly futile was 
any hope of escape; for, as I put my foot down, 
I felt an indescribable drawing, sucking motion 
of the sand below. Another moment and my 
leg was swallowed up nearly to the knee. In 
the moonlight the whole surface of the sand 
seemed to be shaken with devilish delight at 
my disappointment. 1 struggled clear, sv/eating 
with terror and exertion, back to the tussocks be- 
hind me and fell on my face. 

My only means of escape from the semicircle 
was protected with a quicksand! 

How long I lay I have not the faintest idea; 
but I was roused at last by the malevolent 
chuckle of Gunga Dass at my ear. "I would 
advise you, Protector of the Poor" (the ruffian 
was speaking English) "to return to your house. 
It is unhealthy to lie down here. Moreover, 
when the boat returns, you will most certainly 
be rifled at." He stood over me in the dim light 
of the dawn, chuckling and laughing to himself 

544 Indian Tales 

Suppressing my first impulse to catclitiie man by 
the neck and throw him on to the quicksand, 1 
rose sullenly and followed him to the platform 
below the burrows. 

Suddenly, and futilely as I thought while I 
spoke, 1 asked: — "Gunga Dass, what is the good 
of the boat if I can't get out anyhow ? " I recol- 
lect that even in my deepest trouble I had been 
speculating vaguely on the waste of ammunition 
in guarding an already well protected foreshore. 

Gunga Dass laughed again and made answer: 
— "They have the boat only in daytime. It is 
for the reason that there is a way. I hope we 
shall have the pleasure of your company for 
much longer time. It is a pleasant spot when 
you have been here some years and eaten roast 
crow long enough." 

I staggered, numbed and helpless, toward the 
fetid burrow allotted to me, and fell asleep. An 
hour or so later I was awakened by a piercing 
scream — the shrill, high-pitched scream of a 
horse in pain. Those who have once heard that 
will never forget the sound. I found some lit- 
tle difficulty in scrambling out of the burrow. 
When I was in the open, I saw Pornic, my poor 
old Pornic, lying dead on the sandy soil. How 
they had killed him I cannot guess. Gunga Dass 
explained that horse was better than crow, and 
"greatest good of greatest number is political 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 545 

maxim. We are now Republic, Mister Jukes, 
and you are entitled to a fair share of the beast. 
If you like, we will pass a vote of thanks. Shall 
I propose?" 

Yes, we were a Republic indeed! A Republic 
of wild beasts penned at the bottom of a pit, to 
eat and fight and sleep till we died. 1 attempted 
no protest of any kind, but sat down and stared 
at the hideous sight in front of me. In less time 
almost than it takes me to write this, Pornic's body 
was divided, in some unclean way or other; the 
men and women had dragged the fragments on 
to the platform and were preparing their morning 
meal. Gunga Dass cooked mine. The almost 
irresistible impulse to fly at the sand walls until I 
was wearied laid hold of me afresh, and I had to 
struggle against it with all my might. Gunga 
Dass was offensively jocular till I told him that if 
he addressed another remark of any kind what- 
ever to me I should strangle him where he sat. 
This silenced him till silence became insupport- 
able, and I bade him say something. 

"You will live here till you die like the other 
Feringhi," he said, coolly, watching me over the 
fragment of gristle that he was gnawing. 

"What other Sahib, you swine? Speak at 
once, and don't stop to tell me a lie." 

"He is over there," answered Gunga Dass, 
pointing to a burrow-mouth about four doors to 

54^ Indian Tales 

the left of my own. " You can see for yourself. 
He died in the burrow as you will die, and 1 will 
die, and as all these men and women and the one 
child will also die." 

"For pity's sake tell me all you know about 
him. Who was* he ? When did he come, and 
when did he die } " 

This appeal was a weak step on my part. 
Gunga Dass only leered and replied: — "1 will 
not — unless you give me something first." 

Then 1 recollected where I was, and struck the 
man between the eyes, partially stunning him. 
He stepped down from the platform at once, 
and, cringing and fawning and weeping and at- 
tempting to embrace my feet, led me round to 
the burrow which he had indicated. 

"I know nothing whatever about the gentle- 
man. Your God be my witness that I do not. 
He was as anxious to escape as you were, and 
he was shot from the boat, though we all did all 
things to prevent him from attempting. He was 
shot here." Gunga Dass laid his hand on his lean 
stomach and bowed to the earth. 

"Well, and what then ? Goon!" 

"And then — and then. Your Honor, we carried 
him in to his house and gave him water, and put 
wet cloths on the wound, and he laid down in 
his house and gave up the ghost." 

"In how long? In how long.?" 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 547 

"About half an hour, after he received his 
wound. I call Vishn to witness," yelled the 
wretched man, "that I did everything for him. 
Everything which was possible, that I did! " 

He threw himself down on the ground and 
clasped my ankles. But I had my doubts about 
Gunga Dass's benevolence, and kicked him off as 
he lay protesting. 

" I believe you robbed him of everything he 
had. But I can find out in a minute or two. 
How long was the Sahib here } " 

"Nearly a year and a half. I think he must 
have gone mad. But hear me swear, Protector 
of the Poor! Won't Your Honor hear me swear 
that 1 never touched an article that belonged to 
him ? What is Your Worship going to do ? " 

I had taken Gunga Dass by the waist and had 
hauled him on to the platform opposite the de- 
serted burrow. As I did so I thought of my 
wretched fellow-prisoner's unspeakable misery 
among all these horrors for eighteen months, and 
the final agony of dying like a rai in a hole, with 
a bullet-wound in the stomach. Gunga Dass 
fancied I was going to kill him and howled piti- 
fully. The rest of the population, in the plethora 
that follows a full flesh meal, v/atched us with- 
out stirring. 

"Go inside, Gunga Dass," said I, "and fetch 
it out." 

548 Indian Tales 

I was feeling sick and faint witii horror now. 
Gunga Dass nearly rolled off the platform and 
howled aloud. 

"But I am Brahmin, Sahib — a high-caste Brah- 
min, By your soul, by your father's soul, do not 
make me do this thing! " 

" Brahmin or no Brahmin, by my soul and my 
father's soul, in you go!" I said, and, seizing him 
by the shoulders, I crammed his head into the 
mouth of the burrow, kicked the rest of him in, 
and, sitting down, covered my face with my 

At the end of a few minutes I heard a rustle 
and a creak; then Gunga Dass in a sobbing, 
choking whisper speaking to himself; then a soft 
thud — and I uncovered my eyes. 

The dry sand had turned the corpse entrusted 
to its keeping into a yellow-brown mummy. I 
told Gunga Dass to stand off while I examined it. 
The body — clad in an olive-green hunting-suit 
much stained and worn, with leather pads on the 
shoulders — was that of a man between thirty 
and forty, above middle height, with light, sandy 
hair, long mustache, and a rough unkempt beard. 
The left canine of the upper jaw was missing, 
and a portion of the lobe of the right ear was 
gone. On the second finger of the left hand was 
a ring — a shield-shaped bloodstone set in gold, 
with a monogram that might have been either 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jiihes 549 

"B.K." or "B.L." On the third finger of the 
right hand was a silver ring in the shape of a 
coiled cobra, much worn and tarnished. Gunga 
Dass deposited a handful of trifles he had picked 
out of the burrow at my feet, and, covering the 
face of the body with my handkerchief, 1 turned 
to examine these. I give the full list in the hope 
that it may lead to the identification of the un- 
fortunate man: 

1. Bowl of a briarwood pipe, serrated at the 
edge; much worn and blackened; bound with 
string at the screw. 

2. Two patent-lever keys; wards of both 

3. Tortoise-shell-handled penknife, silver or 
nickel, name-plate, marked with monogram 

4. Envelope, postmark undecipherable, bear- 
ing a Victorian stamp, addressed to " Miss 
Mon — " (rest illegible) — " ham " — " nt." 

5. Imitation crocodile-skin notebook with 
pencil. First forty-five pages blank; four and a- 
half illegible; fifteen others filled with private 
memoranda relating chiefly to three persons — a 
Mrs. L. Singleton, abbreviated several times to 
"Lot Single," "Mrs. S. May," and "Gar- 
mison," referred to in places as "Jerry" or 

6. Handle of small-sized hunting-knife. 

550 Indian Tales 

Blade snapped short. Buck's horn, diamond 
cut, with swivel and ring on the butt; fragment 
of cotton cord attached. 

It must not be supposed that I inventoried all 
these things on the spot as fully as I have here 
written them down. The notebook first at- 
tracted my attention, and I put it in my pocket 
with a view to studying it later on. The rest of 
the articles I conveyed to my burrow for safety's 
sake, and there, being a methodical man, 1 in- 
ventoried them. I then returned to the corpse 
and ordered Gunga Dass to help me to carry it 
out to the river-front. While we were engaged 
in this, the exploded shell of an old brown 
cartridge dropped out of one of the pockets and 
rolled at my feet. Gunga Dass had not seen itj 
and I fell to thinking that a man does not carry 
exploded cartridge-cases, especially "browns,' 
which will not bear loading twice, about with 
him when shooting. In other words, that 
cartridge-case has been fired inside the crater. 
Consequently there must be a gun somewhere. 
1 was on the verge of asking Gunga Dass, but 
checked myself, knowing that he would lie. 
We laid the body down on the edge of the 
quicksand by the tussocks. It was my intention 
to push it out and let it be swallowed up — the 
only possible mode of burial that I could think of. 
I ordered Gunga Dass to go away. 

The Strange Ride of Morrowhie Jukes 5 5 1 

Then I gingerly put the corpse out on the 
quicksand. In doing so, it was lying face down- 
ward, I tore the frail and rotten khaki shooting- 
coat open, disclosing a hideous cavity in the 
back. I have already told you that the dry sand 
had, as it were, mummified the body. A mo-' 
ment's glance showed that the gaping hole had 
been caused by a gun-shot wound; the gun must 
have been fired with the muzzle almost touching 
the back. The shooting-coat, being intact, had 
been drawn over the body after death, which 
must have been instantaneous. The secret of 
the poor wretch's death was plain to me in a 
flash. Some one of the crater, presumably 
Gunga Dass, must have shot him with his own 
gun — the gun that fitted the brown cartridges. 
He had never attempted to escape in the face of 
the rifle-fire from the boat. 

I pushed the corpse out hastily, and saw it 
sink from sight literally in a few seconds. I 
shuddered as 1 watched. In a dazed, half-con- 
scious way I turned to peruse the notebook. A 
stained and discolored slip of paper had been in- 
serted between the binding and the back, and 
dropped out as 1 opened the pages. This is 
what it contained: — "Four out from crow- 
clump: three left; nine out ; two right ; three 
hack; two left; fourteen out; two left; seven 
out; one left; nine back; two right ; six back; 

552 Indian Tales 

four right; seven back." The paper had been 
burned and charred at the edges. What it meant 
I could not understand, I sat down on the dried 
bents turning it over and over between my 
fingers, until I was aware of Gunga Dass stand- 
ing immediately behind me with glowing eyes 
and outstretched hands. 

"Have you got it.?" he panted. "Will you 
not let me look at it also ? I swear that 1 will 
return it." 

" Got what ? Return what ? " I asked. 

" That which you have in your hands. It will 
help us both." He stretched out his long, bird- 
like talons, trembling with eagerness. 

"I could never find it," he continued. "He 
had secreted it about his person. Therefore 
I shot him, but nevertheless 1 was unable to ob- 
tain it." 

Gunga Dass had quite forgotten his little 
fiction about the rifle-bullet. I received the in- 
formation perfectly calmly. Morality is blunted 
by consorting with the Dead who are alive. 

" What on earth are you raving about ? What 
is it you want me to give you ?" 

" The piece of paper in the notebook. It 
will help us both. Oh, you fool! You fool! 
Can you not see what it will do for us ? We 
shall escape! " 

His voice rose almost to a scream, and he 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbte Jukes 553 

danced with excitement before me. I own 1 
was moved at the chance of getting away. 

"Don't skip! Explain yourself. Do you mean 
to say that this slip of paper will help us ? What 
does it mean ?" 

"Read it aloud! Read it aloud! 1 beg and I 
pray you to read it aloud." 

I did so. Gunga Dass listened delightedly, 
and drew an irregular line in the sand with his 

"See now! It was the length of his gun- 
barrels without the stock. I have those barrels. 
Four gun-barrels out from the place where I 
caught crows. Straight out; do you follow me .? 
Then three left — Ah ! how well I remember when 
that man worked it out night after night. Then 
nine out, and so on. Out is always straight be- 
fore you across the quicksand. He told me so 
before I killed him." 

t *' But if you knew all this why didn't you get 
out before.?" 

"I did not know it. He told me that he was 
working it out a year and a half ago, and how he 
was working it out night after night when the 
boat had gone away, and he could get out near 
the quicksand safely. Then he said that we 
would get away together. But I was afraid that 
he would leave me behind one night when he 
had worked it all out, and so I shot him. Be- 

554 Indian Tales, 

sides, it is not advisable tliat tiie men wiio once 
get in here sliould escape. Only I, and / am a 

The prospect of escape had brought Gunga 
Dass's caste back to him. He stood up, walked 
about and gesticulated violently. Eventually I 
managed to make him talk soberly, and he told 
me how this Englishman had spent six months 
night after night in exploring, inch by inch, the 
passage across the quicksand; how he had de- 
clared it to be simplicity itself up to within about 
twenty yards of the river bank after turning the 
flank of the left horn of the horseshoe. This 
much he had evidently not completed when 
Gunga Dass shot him with his own gun. 

In my frenzy of delight at the possibilities of 
escape I recollect shaking hands effusively with 
Gunga Dass, after we had decided that we were 
to make an attempt to get away that very night. 
It was weary work waiting throughout the after- 

About ten o'clock, as far as I could judge, 
when the Moon had just risen above the lip of 
the crater, Gunga Dass made a move for his bur- 
row to bring out the gun-barrels whereby to 
measure our path. All the other wretched in- 
habitants had retired to their lairs long ago. The 
guardian boat drifted down-stream some hours 
before, and we were utterly alone by the crow- 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes 555 

clump. Gunga Dass, while carrying the gun- 
barrels, let slip the piece of paper which was to 
be our guide. I stooped down hastily to recover 
it, and, as I did so, I was aware that the diaboli- 
cal Brahmin was aiming a violent blow at the 
back of my head with the gun-barrels. It was 
too late to turn round. 1 must have received the 
blow somewhere on the nape of my neck. A 
hundred thousand fiery stars danced before my 
eyes, and 1 fell forward senseless at the edge of 
the quicksand. 

When 1 recovered consciousness, the Moon 
was going down, and I was sensible of intoler- 
able pain in the back of my head. Gunga Dass 
had disappeared and my mouth was full of blood. 
1 lay down again and prayed that I might die 
without more ado. Then the unreasoning fury 
which I have before mentioned laid hold upon 
me, and 1 staggered inland toward the walls of 
the crater. It seemed that some one was calling 
to me in a whisper — "Sahib! Sahib! Sahib!" 
exactly as my bearer used to call me in the morn- 
ings. I fancied that I was delirious until a hand- 
ful of sand fell at my feet. Then I looked up 
and saw a head peering down into the amphi- 
theatre — the head of Dunnoo, my dog-boy, who 
attended to my collies. As soon as he had attracted 
my attention, he held up his hand and showed a 
rope. 1 motioned, staggering to and fro the 

5 5<5 Indian Tales 

while, that he should throw it down. It was a 
couple of leather punkah-ropes knotted together, 
with a loop at one end. I slipped the loop over 
my head and under my arms; heard Dunnoo 
urge something forward; was conscious that I 
was being dragged, face downward, up the steep 
sand slope, and the next instant found myself 
choked and half fainting on the sand hills over- 
looking the crater. Dunnoo, with his face ashy 
grey in the moonlight, implored me not to stay 
but to get back to my tent at once. 

It seems that he had tracked Pornic's foot- 
prints fourteen miles across the sands to the 
crater; had returned and told my servants, who 
flatly refused to meddle with any one, white or 
black, once fallen into the hideous Village of the 
Dead; whereupon Dunnoo had taken one of my 
ponies and a couple of pukah-ropes, returned 
to the crater, and hauled me out as I have de- 

To cut a long story short, Dunnoo is now my 
personal servant on a gold mohur a month — a 
sum which I still think far too little for the serv- 
ices he has rendered. Nothing on earth will in- 
duce me to go near that devilish spot again, or to 
reveal its whereabouts more clearly than I have 
done. Of Gunga Dass I have never found a 
trace, nor do I wish to do. My sole motive in 
giving this to be published is the hope that some 

The Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jtikes 557 

one may possibly identify, from the details and 
the inventory which I have given above, the 
corpse of the man in the olive-green hunting- 


A stone's throw out on either hand 
From that well-ordered road we tread, 

And all the world is wild and strange : 
Churel and ghoul and Djinn and sprite 
Shall bear us company to-night, 
For we have reached the Oldest Land 

Wherein the Powers of Darkness range. 

— From the Dusk to the Dawn. 

THE house of Suddhoo, near the Taksali Gate, 
is two-storied, with four carved windows 
of old brown wood, and a flat roof. You may 
recognize it by five red hand-prints arranged like 
the Five of Diamonds on the whitewash between 
the upper windows. Bhagwan Dass the grocer 
and a man who says he gets his living by seal- 
cutting live in the lower story with a troop of 
wives, servants, friends, and retainers. The two 
upper rooms used to be occupied by Janoo and 
Azizun and a little black-and-tan terrier that was 
stolen from an Englishman's house and given to 
Janoo by a soldier. To-day, only Janoo lives in 
the upper rooms. Suddhoo sleeps on the roof 
generally, except when he sleeps in the street. 
He used to go to Peshawar in the cold weather 
to visit his son who sells curiosities near the 

In the House of Suddhoo 559 

Edwardes' Gate, and then he slept under a real 
mud roof. Suddhoo is a great friend of mine, 
because his cousin had a son who secured, thanks 
to my recommendation, the post of head-mes- 
senger to a big firm in the Station. Suddhoo says 
that God will make me a Lieutenant-Governor one 
of these days. I dare say his prophecy will come 
true. He is very, very old, with white hair and 
no teeth worth showing, and he has outlived his 
wits — outlived nearly everything except his fond- 
ness for his son at Peshawar. Janoo and Azizun 
are Kashmiris, Ladies of the City, and theirs was 
an ancient and more or less honorable profession; 
but Azizun has since married a medical student 
from the Northwest and has settled down to a 
most respectable life somewhere near Bareilly. 
Bhagwan Dass is an extortionate and an adul- 
terator. He is very rich. The man who is sup- 
posed to get his living by seal-cutting pretends to 
be very poor. This lets you know as much as is 
necessary of the four principal tenants in the 
house of Suddhoo. Then there is Me of course; 
but 1 am only the chorus that comes in at the end 
to explain things. So 1 do not count. 

Suddhoo was not clever. The man who pre- 
tended to cut seals was the cleverest of them all 
— Bhagwan Dass only knew how to lie — except 
Janoo. She was also beautiful, but that was her 
own affair. 

56o Indian Tales 

Suddhoo's son at Peshawar was attacked by 
pleurisy, and old Suddhoo was troubled. The 
seal-cutter man heard of Suddhoo's anxiety and 
made capital out of it. He was abreast of the 
times. He got a friend in Peshawar to telegraph 
daily accounts of the son's health. And here the 
story begins. 

Suddhoo's cousin's son told me, one evening, 
that Suddhoo wanted to see me; that he was too 
old and feeble to come personally, and that I 
should be conferring an everlasting honor on the 
House of Suddhoo if I went to him. I went; 
but I think, seeing how well off Suddhoo was 
then, that he might have sent something better 
than an ekha, which jolted fearfully, to haul out 
a future Lieutenant-Governor to the City on a 
muggy April evening. The ehka did not run 
quickly. It was full dark when we pulled up 
opposite the door of Ranjit Singh's Tomb near 
the main gate of the Fort. Here was Suddhoo, 
and he said that, by reason of my condescen- 
sion, it was absolutely certain that I should be- 
come a Lieutenant-Governor while my hair was 
yet black. Then we talked about the weather 
and the state of my health, and the wheat crops, 
for fifteen minutes in the Huzuri Bagh, under 
the stars. 

Suddhoo came to the point at last. He said 
that Janoo had told him that there was an order 

In the House of Suddhoo 561 

of the Sirkar against magic, because it was feared 
that magic might one day kill the Empress of In- 
dia. 1 didn't know anything about the state of the 
law; but I fancied that something interesting was 
going to happen. I said that so far from magic 
being discouraged by the Government it was 
highly commended. The greatest officials of the 
State practiced it themselves, (if the Financial 
Statement isn't magic, 1 don't know what is.) 
Then, to encourage him further, I said that, if 
there was any Jad 00 afoot, I had not the least ob- 
jection to giving it my countenance and sanction, 
and to seeing that it was clean jadoo — white 
magic, as distinguished from the unclean Jadoo 
which kills folk. It took a long time before 
Suddhoo admitted that this was just what he had 
asked me to come for. Then he told me, in 
jerks and quavers, that the man who said he cut 
seals was a sorcerer of the cleanest kind; that 
every day he gave Suddhoo news of the sick son 
in Peshawar more quickly than the lightning 
could fly, and that this news was always cor- 
roborated by the letters. Further, that he had 
told Suddhoo how a great danger was threaten- 
ing his son, which could be removed by clean 
jadoo ; and, of course, heavy payment. I began 
to see exactly how the land lay, and told Sud- 
dhoo that 1 also understood a little jadoo in the 
Western line, and would go to his house to see 

562 Indian Tales 

that everything was done decently and in order. 
We set off together; and on the way Suddhoo 
told me that he had paid the seal-cutter between 
one hundred and two hundred rupees already; 
and the jadoo of that night would cost two hun- 
dred more. Which was cheap, he said, con- 
sidering the greatness of his son's danger; but 1 
do not think he meant it. 

The lights were all cloaked in the front of the 
house when we arrived. 1 could hear awful 
noises from behind the seal-cutter's shop-front, 
as if some one were groaning his soul out. Sud- 
dhoo shook all over, and while we groped our 
way upstairs told me that the jadoo had begun. 
Janoo and Azizun met us at the stair-head, and 
told us that the jadoo-v^oxk was coming off in 
their rooms, because there was more space there, 
Janoo is a lady of a freethinking turn of mind. 
She whispered that thQ jadoo was an invention to 
get money out of Suddhoo, and that the seal- 
cutter would go to a hot place when he died, 
Suddhoo was nearly crying with fear and old age. 
He kept walking up and down the room in the 
half-light, repeating his son's name over and over 
again, and asking Azizun if the seal-cutter ought 
not to make a reduction in the case of his own 
landlord. Janoo pulled me over to the shadow 
in the recess of the carved bow-windows. The 
boards were up, and the rooms were only lit b^ 

In the House of SiuiJ/ioo 563 

one tiny oil-lamp. There was no chance of my 
being seen if I stayed still. 

Presently, the groans below ceased, and we 
heard steps on the staircase. That was the seal- 
cutter. He stopped outside the door as the ter- 
rier barked and Azizun fumbled at the chain, and 
he told Suddhoo to blow out the lamp. This 
left the place in jet darkness, except for the red 
glow from the two hiiqas that belonged to Janoo 
and Azizun. The seal-cutter came in, and I 
heard Suddhoo throw himself down on the floor 
and groan. Azizun caught her breath, and Janoo 
backed on to one of the beds with a shudder. 
There was a clink of something metallic, and 
then shot up a pale blue-green flame near the 
ground. The light was just enough to show 
Azizun, pressed against one corner of the room 
with the terrier between her knees; Janoo, with 
her hands clasped, leaning forward as she sat on 
the bed; Suddhoo, face down, quivering, and 
the seal-cutter. 

I hope I may never see another man like that 
seal-cutter. He was stripped to the waist, with 
a wreath of white jasmine as thick as my wrist 
round his forehead, a salmon colored loin-cloth 
round his middle, and a steel bangle on each 
ankle. This was not awe-inspiring. It was the 
face of the man that turned me cold. It was 
blue-grey in the first place. In the second, the 

564 Indian Tales 

eyes were rolled back till you could only see the 
whites of them; and, in the third, the face was 
the face of a demon — a ghoul — anything you 
please except of the sleek, oily old ruffian who 
sat in the daytime over his turning-lathe down- 
stairs. He was lying on his stomach with his 
arms turned and crossed behind him, as if he had 
been thrown down pinioned. His head and 
neck were the only parts of him off the floor. 
They were nearly at right angles to the body, 
like the head of a cobra at spring. It was 
ghastly, in the centre of the room, on the bare 
earth floor, stood a big, deep, brass basin, with a 
pale blue-green light floating in the centre like a 
night-light. Round that basin the man on the 
floor wriggled himself three times. How he did 
it I do not know. I could see the muscles ripple 
along his spine and fall smooth again; but I 
could not see any other motion. The head 
seemed the only thing alive about him, except 
that slow curl and uncurl of the laboring back- 
muscles. Janoo from the bed was breathing 
seventy to the minute; Azizun held her hands 
before her eyes; and old Suddhoo, fingering at 
the dirt that had got into his white beard, was 
crying to himself. The horror of it was that the 
creeping, crawly thing made no sound — onlv 
crawled! And, remember, this lasted for tei. 
minutes, while the terrier whined, and Azizun 

In the House of Siiddhoo 565 

shuddered, and Janoo gasped, and Suddhoo 

! felt the hair lift at the back of my head, and 
my heart thump like a thermantidote paddle. 
Luckily, the seal-cutter betrayed himself by his 
most impressive trick and made me calm again. 
After he had finished that unspeakable triple 
crawl, he stretched his head away from the floor 
as high as he could, and sent out a jet of fire 
from his nostrils. Now 1 knew how fire-spout- 
ing is done — I can do it myself — so I felt at ease. 
The business was a fraud. If he had only kept 
to that crawl without trying to raise the effect, 
goodness knows what 1 might not have thought. 
Both the girls shrieked at the jet of fire and the 
head dropped, chin-down on the floor, with a 
thud; the whole body lying then like a corpse 
with its arms trussed. There was a pause of five 
full minutes after this, and the blue-green flame 
died down. Janoo stooped to settle one of her 
anklets, while Azizun turned her face to the wall 
and took the terrier in her arms. Suddhoo put 
out an arm mechanically to Janoo's hnqa, and she 
slid it across the floor with her foot. Directly 
above the body and on the wall, were a couple of 
flaming portraits, in stamped-paper frames, of the 
Queen and the Prince of Wales. They looked 
down on the performance, and to my thinking, 
seemed to heighten the grotesqueness of it all. 

566 Indian Tales 

Just when the silence was getting unendurable, 
the body turned over and rolled away from the 
basin to the side of the room, where it lay stom- 
ach-up. There was a faint "plop" from the 
basin — exactly like the noise a fish makes when 
it takes a fly — and the green light in the centre 

I looked at the basin, and saw, bobbing in the 
water, the dried, shrivelled, black head of a na- 
tive baby — open eyes, open mouth, and shaved 
scalp. It was worse, being so very sudden, than 
the crawling exhibition. We had no time to say 
anything before it began to speak. 

Read Poe's account of the voice that came from 
the mesmerized dying man, and you will realize 
less than one half of the horror of that head's 

There was an interval of a second or two be- 
tween each word, and a sort of "ring, ring, 
ring," in the note of the voice, like the timbre of 
a bell. It pealed slowly, as if talking to itself, 
for several minutes before 1 got rid of my cold 
sweat. Then the blessed solution struck me. I 
looked at the body lying near the doorway, and 
saw, just where the hollow of the throat joins on 
the shoulders, a muscle that had nothing to do 
with any man's regular breathing twitching away 
steadily. The whole thing was a careful repro- 
duction of the Egyptian teraphin that one reads 

In the House of Siuidhoo 567 

about sometimes; and the voice was as clever 
and as appalling a piece of ventriloquism as one 
could wish to hear. All this time the head was 
" lip-Hp-lapping " against the side of the basin, 
and speaking. It told Suddhoo, on his face again 
whining, of his son's illness and of the state of 
the illness up to the evening of that very night. 
I always shall respect the seal-cutter for keeping 
so faithfully to the time of the Peshawar tele- 
grams. It went on to say that skilled doctors 
were night and day watching over the man's 
life; and that he would eventually recover if the 
fee to the potent sorcerer, whose servant was the 
head in the basin, were doubled. 

Here the mistake from the artistic point of 
view came in. To ask for twice your stipulated 
fee in a voice that Lazarus might have used when 
he rose from the dead, is absurd. Janoo, who is 
really a woman of masculine intellect, saw this 
as quickly as I did. I heard her say " Asli 
nahin! Fareib!" scornfully under her breath; 
and just as she said so, the light in the basin died 
out, the head stopped talking, and we heard the 
room door creak on its hinges. Then Janoo 
struck a match, lit the lamp, and we saw that 
head, basin, and seal-cutter were gone. Sud- 
dhoo was wringing his hands and explaining to 
any one who cared to listen, that, if his chances 
of eternal salvation depended on it, he could not 

568 Indian Tales 

raise another two hundred rupees. Azizun was 
nearly in hysterics in the corner; while Janoo sat 
down composedly on one of the beds to discuss 
the probabilities of the whole thing being a 
biuiao, or "make-up." 

I explained as much as I knew of the seal-cut- 
ter's way of jadoo; but her argument was much 
more simple — "The magic that is always de- 
manding gifts is no true magic," said she. " My 
mother told me that the only potent love-spells 
are those which are told you for love. This seal- 
cutter man is a liar and a devil. I dare not tell, 
do anything, or get anything done, because I am 
in debt to Bhagwan Dass the bunnia for two gold 
rings and a heavy anklet. I must get my food 
from his shop. The seal-cutter is the friend of 
Bhagwan Dass, and he would poison my food. 
A fool's jadoo has been going on for ten days, 
and has cost Suddhoo many rupees each night. 
The seal-cutter used black hens and lemons and 
mantras before. He never shov/ed us anything 
like this till to-night. Azizun is a fool, and will 
be a pnrdahnashin soon. Suddhoo has lost his 
strength and his wits. See now! I had hoped 
to get from Suddhoo many rupees while he 
lived, and many more after his death ; and behold, 
he is spending everything on that offspring of a 
devil and a she-ass, the seal-cutter! " 

Here I said, " But what induced Suddhoo to 

In the House of Suddhoo 569 

drag me into the business ? Of course I can 
speak to the seal-cutter, and he shall refund. 
The whole thing is child's talk — shame — and 

"Suddhoo is an old child," said Janoo. "He 
has lived on the roofs these seventy years and is 
as senseless as a milch-goat. He brought you 
here to assure himself that he v^as not breaking 
any law of the Sirkar, whose salt he ate many 
years ago. He worships the dust off the feet of 
the seal-cutter, and that cow-devourer has for- 
bidden him to go and see his son. What does 
Suddhoo know of your laws or the lightning- 
post } I have to watch his money goirig day by 
day to that lying beast below," 

Janoo stamped her foot on the floor and nearly 
cried with vexation; while Suddhoo was whim- 
pering under a blanket in the corner, and Azizun 
was trying to guide the pipe-stem to his foolish 
old mouth. 

Now, the case stands thus. Unthinkingly, I 
have laid myself open to the charge of aiding and 
abetting the seal-cutter in obtaining money un- 
der false pretences, which is forbidden by Section 
420 of the Indian Penal Code. I am helpless in 
the matter for these reasons. I cannot inform 
the Police. What witnesses would support my 

570 Indian Tales 

statements ? Janoo refuses flatly, and Azizun is 
a veiled woman somewhere near Bareilly — lost 
in this big India of ours. I dare not again take 
the law into my own hands, and speak to the 
seal-cutter; for certain am I that, not only would 
Suddhoo disbelieve me, but this step would end 
in the poisoning of Janoo, who is bound hand 
and foot by her debt to the biinnia. Suddhoo is 
an old dotard; and whenever we meet mumbles 
my idiotic joke that the Sirkar rather patronizes 
the Black Art than otherwise. His son is well 
now; but Suddhoo is completely under the in- 
fluence of the seal-cutter, by whose advice he 
regulates the affairs of his life. Janoo watches 
daily the money that she hoped to wheedle out 
of Suddhoo taken by the seal-cutter, and becomes 
daily more furious and sullen. 

She will never tell, because she dare not; but, 
unless something happens to prevent her, I am 
afraid that the seal-cutter will die of cholera — 
the white arsenic kind — about the middle of May. 
And thus I shall be privy to a murder in the 
House of Suddhoo. 


To the wake av Tim O'Hara 

Came company, 
All St. Patrick's Alley 

Was there to see. 

Robert Buchanan, 

AS the Three Musketeers share their silver, to- 
bacco, and liquor together, as they protect 
each other in barracks or camp, and as they re- 
joice together over the joy of one, so do they 
divide their sorrows. When Ortheris's irrepres- 
sible tongue has brought him into cells for a 
season, or Learoyd has run amok through his kit 
and accoutrements, or Mulvaney has indulged in 
strong waters, and under their influence reproved 
his Commanding Officer, you can see the trouble 
in the faces of the untouched two. And the rest 
of the regiment know that comment or jest is 
unsafe. Generally the three avoid Orderly Room 
and the Corner Shop that follows, leaving both 
to the young bloods who have not sown their 
wild oats; but there are occasions — 

For instance, Ortheris was sitting on the draw- 
bridge of the main gate of Fort Amara, with his 
hands in his pockets and his pipe, bowl down, 

572 Indian Tales 

in his mouth. Learoyd was lying at full length 
on the turf of the glacis, kicking his heels in the 
air, and I came *-ound th'^ corn':" and asked for 

Ortheris spat into the ditch and shook his head. 
"No good seein' 'im now," said Ortheris; '"e's a 
bloomin' camel. Listen." 

1 heard on the flags of the veranda opposite to 
the cells, which are close to the Guard-Room, a 
measured step that I could have identified in the 
tramp of an army. There were twenty paces 
crescendo, a pause, and then twenty dimmuendo. 

"That's 'im," said Ortheris; "my Gawd, that's 
'im! All for a bloomin' button you could see 
your face in an' a bit o' lip that a bloomin' Hark- 
angel would 'a' guv back." 

Mulvaney was doing pack-drill — was com- 
pelled, that is to say, to walk up and down for 
certain hours in full marching order, with rifle, 
bayonet, ammunition, knapsack, and overcoat. 
And his offence was being dirty on parade! I 
nearly fell into the Fort Ditch with astonishment 
and wrath, for Mulvaney is the smartest man 
that ever mounted guard, and would as soon 
think of turning out uncleanly as of dispensing 
with his trousers. 

"Who was the Sergeant that checked him ? " 
I asked. 

"Mullins, o' course,"' said Ortheris. "There 

Black Jack 573 

ain't no other man would whip 'im on the peg 
so. But Muliins ain't a man. 'E's a dirty little 
pigscraper, that's wot 'e is." 

' ' What did Mulvaney say .? He's not the make 
of man to take that quietly." 

"Said! Bin better for 'im if 'e'd shut 'is 
mouth. Lord, 'ow we laughed! 'Sargint,' 'e 
sez, 'ye say I'm dirty. Well,' sez 'e, 'when 
your wife lets you blow your own nose for your- 
self, perhaps you'll know wot dirt is. You're 
himperfectly eddicated, Sargint,' sez 'e, an' then 
we fell in. But after p'rade, 'e was up an' Mul- 
iins was swearin' 'imself black in the face at 
Ord'ly Room that Mulvaney 'ad called 'im a 
swine an' Lord knows wot all. You know Mui- 
lins. 'E'll 'ave 'is 'ead broke in one o' these days. 
'E's too big a bloomin' liar for ord'nary consump- 
tion. ' Three hours' can an' kit,' sez the Colonel; 
' not for bein' dirty on p'rade, but for 'avin' said 
somthin' to Muliins, tho' I do not believe,' sez 'e, 
'you said wot 'e said you said.' An' Mulvaney 
fell away sayin' nothin'. You know 'e never 
speaks to the Colonel for fear o' gettin' 'imself 
fresh copped." 

Muliins, a very young and very much married 
Sergeant, whose manners were partly the result 
of innate depravity and partly of imperfectly di- 
gested Board School, came over the bridge, and 
most rudely asked Ortheris what he was doing. 

574 Indian TaUs 

"Me?" said Ortheris. "Ow! Tm waiting 
for my C'mission. 'Seed it comin' along yit ? '" 

Mullins turned purple and passed on. There 
was the sound of a gentle chuckle from the glacis 
where Learoyd lay. 

"'E expects to get 'is C'mission some day," 
explained Orth'ris; "Gawd 'elp the Mess that 
'ave to put their 'ands into the same kiddy as 
'im! Wot time d'you make it, sir? Power! 
Mulvaney'll be out in 'arf an hour. You don't 
want to buy a dorg, sir, do you ? A pup you 
can trust — 'arf Rampore by the Colonel's grey- 

"Ortheris," I answered, sternly, for I knew 
what was in his mind, "do you mean to say 
that "— 

" I didn't mean to arx money o' you, any'ow," 
said Ortheris; "I'd 'a' sold you the dorg good 
an' cheap, but — but — I know Mulvaney'll want 
somethin' after we've walked 'im orf, an' 1 ain't 
got nothin', nor 'e 'asn't neither. I'd sooner sell 
you the dorg, sir. 'S trewth I would!" 

A shadow fell on the drawbridge, and Orthe- 
ris began to rise into the air, lifted by a huge 
hand upon his collar. 

"Onything but t' braass," said Learoyd, qui- 
etly, as he held the Londoner over the ditch. 
"Onything but t' braass, Orth'ris, ma son! 
Ah've got one rupee eight annas of ma own.'" 

Black Jack 575 

He showed two coins, and replaced Ortheris on 
the drawbridge rail. 

"Very good," I said; "where are you going 

" Goin' to walk 'im orf wen 'e comes out — 
two miles or three or fower," said Ortheris. 

The footsteps within ceased. I heard the dull 
thud of a knapsack falling on a bedstead, fol- 
lowed by the rattle of arms. Ten minutes later. 
Mulvaney, faultlessly dressed, his lips tight and 
his face as black as a thunderstorm, stalked into 
the sunshine on the drawbridge. Learoyd and 
Ortheris sprang from my side and closed in upon 
him, both leaning toward as horses lean upon 
the pole. In an instant they had disappeared 
down the sunken road to the cantonments, and I 
was left alone. Mulvaney had not seen fit to rec- 
ognize me; so I knew that his trouble must be 
heavy upon him. 

I climbed one of the bastions and watched the 
figures of the Three Musketeers grow smaller and 
smaller across the plain. They were walking as 
fast as they could put foot to the ground, and their 
heads were bowed. They fetched a great com- 
pass round the parade-ground, skirted the Cav- 
alry lines, and vanished in the belt of trees that 
fringes the low land by the river. 

1 followed slowly, and sighted them — dusty, 
sweating, but still keeping up their long, swing- 

5/6 Indian Tales 

ing tramp — on the river bank. They crashed 
through the Forest Reserve, headed toward the 
Bridge of Boats, and presently established them- 
selves on the bow of one of the pontoons. I 
rode cautiously till 1 saw three puffs of white 
smoke rise and die out in the clear evening air, 
and knew that peace had come again. At the 
bridge-head they waved me forward with ges- 
tures of welcome. 

"Tie up your 'orse," shouted Ortheris, "an' 
come on, sir. We're all goin' 'ome in this 'ere 
bloomin' boat." 

From the bridge-head to the Forest Officer's 
bungalow is but a step. The mess-man was 
there, and would see that a man held my horse. 
Did the Sahib require aught else — a peg, or beer ? 
Ritchie Sahib had left half a dozen bottles of the 
latter, but since the Sahib was a friend of Ritchie 
Sahib, and he, the mess-man, was a poor man — 

I gave my order quietly, and returned to the 
bridge. Mulvaney had taken off his boots, and 
was dabbling his toes in the water; Learoyd was 
lying on his hack on the pontoon; and Ortheris 
was pretending to row with a big bamboo. 

" I'm an ould fool," said Mulvaney, reflectively, 
" dhraggin' you two out here bekaze I was un- 
dher the Black Dog — sulkin' like a child. Me 
that was soldierin' when Mullins, an' be damned 
to him, was shquealin' on a counterpin for five 

Black Jack S77 

shillin' a week — an' thai not paid! Bhoys, I've 
took you five miles out av natural pervarsity. 
Phew ! " 

"Wots the odds so long as you're 'appy?" 
said Ortheris, applying himself afresh to the bam- 
boo. " As well 'ere as anywhere else." 

Learoyd held up a rupee and an eight-anna bit, 
and shook his head sorrowfully. " Five mile from 
t' Canteen, all along o' Mulvaney's blaasted pride." 

"1 know ut," said Mulvaney, penitently. 
" Why will ye come wid me ? An' yet 1 wud be 
mortial sorry if ye did not — any time — though I 
am ould enough to know betther. But I will do 
penance. I will take a dhrink av wather." 

Ortheris squeaked shrilly. The butler of the 
Forest bungalow was standing near the railings 
with a basket, uncertain how to clamber down 
to the pontoon. " Might 'a' know'd you'd "a' got 
liquor out o' bloomin' desert, sir," said Ortheris, 
gracefully, to me. Then to the mess-man: 
" Easy with them there bottles. They're worth 
their weight in gold. Jock, ye long-armed beg- 
gar, get out o' that an' hike 'em down." 

Learoyd had the basket on the pontoon in an 
instant, and the Three Musketeers gathered round 
it with dry lips. They drank my health in due 
and ancient form, and thereafter tobacco tasted 
sweeter than ever. They absorbed all the beer, 
and disposed themselves in picturesque attitudes 

5/8 Indian Tales 

to admire the setting sun — no man speaking for 
a while. 

Mulvaney's head dropped upon his chest, and 
we thought that he was asleep. 

"What on earth did you come so far for ? " I 
whispered to Ortheris. 

"To walk 'im orf, o' course. When 'e's been 
checked we alius walks 'im orf. 'E ain't fit to 
be spoke to those times — nor 'e ain't fit to leave 
alone neither. So we takes 'im till 'e is." 

Mulvaney raised his head, and stared straight 
into the sunset. "I had my rifle," said he, 
dreamily, "an' 1 had my bay'nit, an' Mullins 
came round the corner, an' he looked in my face 
an' grinned dishpiteful. ' You can't blow your 
own nose,' sez he. Now, I cannot tell fwhat 
Mullins's expayrience may ha' been, but, Mother 
av God, he was nearer to his death that minut' 
than I have iver been to mine — and that's less 
than the thicknuss av a hair! " 

"Yes," said Ortheris, calmly, "you'd look fine 
with all your buttons took orf, an' the Band in 
front o' you, walkin' roun' slow time. We're 
both front-rank men, me an' Jock, when the 
rig'ment's in 'ollow square. Bloomin' fine you'd 
look. ' The Lord giveth an' the Lord taketh 
awai, — Heasy with that there drop! — Blessed be 
the naime o' the Lord,'" he gulped in a quaint 
and suggestive fashion. 

Black Jack 579 

"MuUins! Wot's Mullins?" said Learoyd, 
slowly. " Ah'd take a coomp'ny o' Mullinses — 
ma hand behind me. Sitha, Mulvaney, don't be 
a fool." 

" You were not checked for fwhat you did not 
do, an' made a mock av afther. 'Twas for less 
than that the Tyrone wud ha' sent O'Harato hell, 
instid av lettin' him go by his own choosin', whin 
Rafferty shot him," retorted Mulvaney. 

"And who stopped the Tyrone from doing 
it .?" I asked. 

"That ould fool who's sorry he didn't stick the 
pig Mullins." His head dropped again. When 
he raised it he shivered and put his hands on the 
shoulders of his two companions. 

" Ye've walked the Divil out av me, bhoys," 
said he. 

Ortheris shot out the red-hot dottel of his pipe 
on the back of the hairy fist. "They say 'Ell's 
'otter than that," said he, as Mulvaney swore 
aloud. " You be warned so. Look yonder! "— 
he pointed across the river to a ruined temple— 
" Me an' you an' Hm " — he indicated me by a jerk 
of his head — "was there one day when Hi made 
a bloomin' show o' myself. You an' 'im stopped 
me doin' such — an' Hi was on'y wishful for to 
desert. You are makin' a bigger bloomin' show 
o' yourself now." 

"Don't mind him, Mulvaney," I said; "Dinah 

58o Indian Tales 

Shadd won t let you hang yourself yet awhile, 
and you don't intend to try it either. Let's hear 
about the Tyrone and O'Hara. Rafferty shot him 
for fooling with his wife. What happened be- 
fore that?" 

" There's no fool like an ould fool. You know 
you can do anythin' wid me whin I'm talkin'. 
Did 1 sa_y I wud like to cut Mullins's hver out ? 
I deny the imputashin, for fear that Orth'ris here 
wud report me — Ah! You wud tip me into the 
river, wud you ? Sit quiet, little man. Any- 
ways, MuUins is not worth the trouble av an 
extry p'rade, an' I will trate him wid outrajis 
contimpt. The Tyrone an' O'Hara! O'Hara an' 
the Tyrone, begad! Ould days are hard to bring 
back into the mouth, but they're always inside 
the head." 

Followed a long pause. 

** O'Hara was a Divil. Though I saved him, 
for the honor av the rig'mint, from his death that 
time, I say it now. He was a Divil — a long, 
bould, black-haired Divil." 

" Which way ? " asked Ortheris. 


"Then I know another." 

" Not more than in reason, if you mane me, ye 
warped walkin'-shtick. I have been young, an' 
for why should I not have tuk what I cud ? Did 
I iver, whin I was Corp'ril, use the rise av my 

Black Jack 5S1 

rank— wan step an' that taken away, more's the 
sorrow an' the fault av me! — to prosecute a 
nefarious inthrigue, as O'Hara did? Did I, whin 
I was Corp'ril, lay my spite upon a man an' make 
his life a dog's life from day to day ? Did I lie, 
as O'Hara lied, till the young wans in the Tyrone 
turned white wid the fear av the Judgment av 
God killin' thim all in a lump, as ut killed the 
woman at Devizes? 1 did not! 1 have sinned 
my sins an' I have made my confesshin, an' 
Father Victor knows the worst av me. O'Hara 
was tuk, before he cud spake, on Rafferty's door- 
step, an' no man knows the worst av him. But 
this much I know! 

" The Tyrone was recruited any fashion in the 
ould days. A draf from Connemara — a draf 
from Portsmouth — a draf from Kerry, an' that 
was a blazin' bad draf — here, there and ivery- 
where — but the large av thim was Oirish — Black 
Oirish. Now there are Oirish an' Oirish. The 
good are good as the best, but the bad arewurrst 
than the wurrst. 'Tis this way. They clog 
together in pieces as fast as thieves, an' no wan 
knows fwhat they will do till wan turns informer 
an' the gang is bruk. But ut begins again, a day 
later, meetin' in holes an' corners an' swearin' 
bloody oaths an' shtickin' a man in the back an' 
runnin' away, an' thin waitin' for the blood- 
money on the reward papers — to see if ut's 

5^2 Indian Tales 

worth enough. Those are the Black Oirish, an' 
'tis they that bring dishgrace upon the name av 
Oireland, an' thim I wud kill — as I nearly killed 
wan wanst. 

"But to reshume. My room — 'twas before 1 
was married — was wid twelve av the scum av 
the earth — the pickin's av the gutter — mane men 
that wud neither laugh nor talk nor yet get 
dhrunk as a man shud. They thried some av 
their dog's thricks on me, but I dhrew a line 
round my cot, an' the man that thransgressed ut 
wint into hospital for three days good. 

"O'Hara had put his spite on the room — he 
was my Color Sargint — an' nothin' cud we do to 
plaze him. 1 was younger than I am now, an' I 
tuk what I got in the way av dressing down and 
punishmint-dhrill wid my tongue in my cheek. 
But it was diff'rint wid the others, an' why I can- 
not say, excipt that some men are borrun mane 
an' go to dhirty murdher where a fist is more 
than enough. Afther a whoile, they changed 
their chune to me an' was desp'rit frien'ly — all 
twelve av thim cursin' O'Hara in chorus. 

"'Eyah,' sez I, 'O'Hara's a divil an' I'm not 
for denyin' ut, but is he the only man in the 
wurruld } Let him go. He'll get tired av lindin' 
our kit foul an' our 'coutrements onproperly 

" ' We will not let him go,' sez they. 

Black Jack 583 

"'Thin take him,' sez I, 'an' a dashed poor 
yield you will get for your throuble/ 

"'Is he not misconductin' himself wid Slim- 
my's wife ? ' sez another, 

"'She's common to the rig'mint,' sez I. 
' Fwhat has made ye this partic'lar on a sud- 
dint ? ' 

" ' Has he not put his spite on the roomful av 
us? Can we do anyth'n' that he will not check 
us for?' sez another. 

" 'That's thrue,' sez I. 

" 'Will ye not help us to do aught,' sez an- 
other — ' a big bould man like you ? ' 

" ' 1 will break his head upon his shoulthers av 
he puts hand on me,' sez I. ' I will give him the 
lie av he says that I'm dhirty, an' 1 wud not mind 
duckin' him in the Artillery troughs if ut was not 
that I'm thryin' for my shtripes.' 

" ' Is that all ye will do ?' sez another. ' Have 
ye no more spunk than that, ye blood-dhrawn 

" ' Blood-dhrawn 1 may be,' sez I, gettin' back 
to my cot an' makin' my line round ut; 'but ye 
know that the man who comes acrost this mark 
will be more blood-dhrawn than me. No man 
gives me the name in my mouth,' I sez. 'On- 
dersthand, I will have no part wid you in any- 
thin' ye do, nor will I raise my fist to my shu- 
perior. Is any wan comin" on ?' sez I. 

584 Indi an Tales 

"They made no move, tho' I gave them full 
time, but stud growlin' an' snarlin' together at 
wan ind av the room. I tuk up my cap and 
wint out to Canteen, thinkin' no little av mesilf, 
and there I grew most ondacintly dhrunk in my 
legs. My head was all reasonable. 

•' ' Houligan,' 1 sez to a man in E Comp'ny 
that was by way av bein' a frind av mine; ' I'm 
overtuk from the belt down. Do you give me 
the touch av your shoulther to presarve my for- 
mation an' march me acrost the ground into the 
high grass. I'll sleep ut off there,' sez 1; an' 
Houligan — he's dead now, but good he was 
while he lasted — walked wid me, givin' me the 
touch whin I wint wide, ontil we came to the 
high grass, an', my faith, the sky an' the earth 
was fair rowlin' undher me. I made for where 
the grass was thickust, an' there I slep' off my 
liquor wid an easy conscience. I did not desire 
to come on books too frequent; my characther 
havin' been shpotless for the good half av a year. 

"Whin I roused, the dhrink was dyin' out in 
me, an' I felt as though a she-cat had littered in 
my mouth. I had not learned to hould my liquor 
wid comfort in thim days. 'Tis little betther I 
am now. 'I will get Houligan to pour a bucket 
over my head,' thinks I, an' I wud ha' risen, but 
I heard some wan say: 'Mulvaneycan take the 
blame av ut for the backslidin' hound he is.' 

Blackjack 585 

"'Oho!' sez I, an' my head rang like a 
guard-room gong: ' fwhat is the blame that this 
young man must take to oblige Tim Vulmea ? ' 
For 'twas Tim Vulmea that shpoke. 

" I turned on my belly an' crawled through the 
grass, a bit at a time, to where the spache came 
from. There was the twelve av my room sittin' 
down in a little patch, the dhry grass wavin' 
above their heads an' the sin av black murdher in 
their hearts. I put the stuff aside to get a clear 

" 'Fwhat's that?' sez wan man, jumpin' up. 

" ' A dog,' says Vulmea. * You're a nice hand 
to this job! As I said, Mulvaney will take the 
blame — av ut comes to a pinch.' 

" ''Tis harrd to swear a man's life away,' sez 
a young wan. 

" ' Thank ye for that,' thinks I. ' Now, fwhat 
the divil are you paragins conthrivin' against me }' 

"*'Tis as easy as dhrinkin' your quart,' sez 
Vulmea. 'At seven or thereon, O'Hara will 
come acrost to the Married Quarters, goin' to call 
on Slimmy's wife, the swine! Wan av us'll pass 
the wurrd to the room an' we shtart the divil an' 
all av a shine — laughin' an' crackin' on an' 
t'rowin' our boots about. Thin O'Hara will 
come to give us the ordher to be quiet, the more 
by token bekaze the room-lamp will be knocked 
over in the larkin'. He will take the straight 

586 Indian Tales 

road to the ind door where there's the lamp in 
the veranda, an' that'll bring him clear against 
the light as he shtands. He will not be able to 
look into the dhark. Wan av us will loose off, 
an' a close shot ut will be, an' shame to the man 
that misses. 'Twill be Mulvaney's rifle, she that 
that is at the head av the rack — there's no mistakin' 
long-shtocked, cross-eyed bitch even in the dhark.' 

"The thief misnamed my ould firin'-piece out 
av jealousy — I was pershuaded av that — an' ut 
made me more angry than all. 

"But Vulmea goes on: * O'Hara will dhrop, 
an' by the time the light's lit again, there'll be 
some six av us on the chest av Mulvaney, cryin' 
murdher an' rape. Mulvaney's cot is near the 
ind door, an' the shmokin' rifle will be lyin' un- 
dher him whin we've knocked him over. We 
knov/, an' all the rig'mint knows, that Mulvaney 
has given O'Hara more lip than any man av us. 
Will there be any doubt at the Coort-martial ? 
Wud twelve honust sodger-bhoys swear away 
the life av a dear, quiet, swate-timpered man 
such as is Mulvaney — wid his line av pipe-clay 
roun' his cot, threatenin' us wid murdher av we 
overshtepped ut, as we can truthful testify?' 

"'Mary, Mother av Mercy!' thinks 1 to me- 
silf; 'it is this to have an unruly mimber an' 
fistes fit to use! Oh the sneakin' hounds! ' 

" The big dhrops ran down my face, for I was 

Black Jack 587 

wake wid the liquor an' had not the full av my 
wits about me. I laid shtill an' heard thim 
workin' themselves up to swear my life by tellin' 
tales av ivry time I had put my mark on wan or 
another; an' my faith, they was few that was 
not so dishtinguished. 'Twas all in the way av 
fair fight, though, for niver did 1 raise my hand 
excipt whin they had provoked me to ut. 

" ' 'Tis all well,' sez wan av thim, 'but who's 
to do this shootin' ? ' 

'•'Fwhat matther?' sez Vulmea. 'Tis Mul- 
vaney will do that — at the Coort-martial.' 

" ' He will so,' sez the man, 'but whose hand 
is put to the trigger — in the room ? ' 

" 'Who'll do ut?' sez Vulmea, lookin' round, 
but divil a man answeared. They began to dish- 
pute till Kiss, that was always playin' Shpoil 
Five, sez: 'Thry the kyards!' Wid that he 
opined his tunic an' tuk out the greasy palam- 
mers, an' they all fell in wid the notion. 

"'Deal on!' sez Vulmea, wid a big rattlin' 
oath, ' an' the Black Curse av Shielygh come to 
the man that will not do his duty as the kyards 
say. Amin!' 

" ' Black Jack is the masther,' sez Kiss, dealin'. 
Black Jack, sorr, I shud expaytiate to you, is the 
Ace av Shpades which from time immimorial has 
been intimately connect wid battle, murdher an' 
suddin death. 

588 Indian Tales 

" Wanst Kiss dealt an' there was no sign, but 
the men was whoite wid the workin's av their 
sowls. Twice Kiss dealt, an' there was a grey 
shine on their cheeks like the mess av an egg. 
Three times Kiss dealt an' they was blue. 
' Have ye not lost him ?' sez Vulmea, wipin' the 
sweat on him; 'Let's ha' done quick! ' 'Quick 
ut is,' sez Kiss t'rowin' him the kyard; an' ut fell 
face up on his knee — Black Jack! 

"Thin they all cackled wid laughin'. 'Duty 
thrippence,' sez wan av thim, 'an' damned 
cheap at that price!' But 1 cud see they all 
dhrew a little away from Vulmea an' lef him 
sittin' playin' wid the kyard. Vulmea sez no 
word for a whoile but licked his lips — cat-ways. 
Thin he threw up his head an' made the men 
swear by ivry oath known to stand by him not 
alone in the room but at the Coort-martial that 
was to set on me ! He tould off five av the big- 
gest to stretch me on my cot whin the shot was 
fired, an' another man he tould off to put out the 
light, an' yet another to load my rifle. He wud 
not do that himself; an' that was quare, for 
'twas but a little thing considerin'. 

"Thin they swore over again that they wud 
not bethray wan another, an' crep' out av the 
grass in diff'rint ways, two by two. A mercy ut 
was that they did not come on me. I was sick 
wid fear in the pit av my stummick — sick, sick, 

Black Jack 589 

sick! Afther they was all gone, I wint back to 
Canteen an' called for a quart to put a thought in 
me. Vulmea was there, dhrinkin' heavy, an' 
politeful to me beyond reason. ' Fwhat will I do 
— fwhat will I do .? ' thinks 1 to mesilf whin Vul- 
mea wint away. 

" Presintly the Arm'rer Sargint comes in stiffin' 
an' crackin' on, not pleased wid any wan, bekaze 
the Martini Henri bein' new to the rig'mint in 
those days we used to play the mischief wid her 
arrangemints. 'Twas a long time before 1 cud 
get out av the way av thryin' to pull back the 
back-sight an' turnin' her over afther firin' — as if 
she was a Snider. 

" ' Fwhat tailor-men do they give me to work 
wid ?' sez the Arm'rer Sargint. ' Here's Hogan, 
his nose flat as a table, laid by for a week, an' 
ivry Comp'ny sendin" their arrums in knocked to 
small shivreens.' 

" ' Fwhat's wrong wid Hogan, Sargint?' sez I. 

" 'Wrong! 'sez the Arm'rer Sargint; 'I showed 
him, as though I had been his mother, the way 
av shtrippin' a 'Tini, an' he shtrup her clane an' 
easy. I tould him to put her to again an' fire a 
blank into the blow-pit to show how the dirt 
hung on the groovin'. He did that, but he did 
not put in the pin av the fallin'-block, an' av 
coorse whin he fired he was strook by the block 

590 Indian Tales 

jumpin' clear. Well for him 'twas but a blank — 
a full charge wud ha' cut his oi out.' 

"I looked a thrifle wiser than a boiled sheep's 
head. ' How's that, Sargint ? ' sez I. 

"'This way, ye blundherin' man, an' don't 
you be doin' ut,' sez he. Wid that he shows me 
a Waster action — the breech av her all cut away 
to show the inside — an' so plazed he was to 
grumble that he dimonstrated fwhat Hogan had 
done twice over. * An' that comes av not 
knowin' the wepping you're purvided wid,' sez 

"'Thank ye, Sargint,' sez I; 'I will come to 
you again for further information.' 

"'Ye will not,' sez he. ' Kape your clanin'- 
rod away from the breech-pin or you will get 
into throuble.' 

"I wint outside an' I could ha' danced wid de- 
light for the grandeur av ut. ' They will load my 
rifle, good luck to thim, whoile I'm away,' thinks 
I, and back I wint to the Canteen to give them 
their clear chanst. 

"The Canteen was fillin' wid men at the ind 
av the day. I made feign to be far gone in 
dhrink, an', wan by wan, all my roomful came in 
wid Vulmea. I wint away, walkin' thick an' 
heavy, but not so thick an' heavy that any wan 
cud ha' tuk me. Sure and thrue, there was a 
kyartridge gone from my pouch an' lyin' snug in 

Black Jack 59i 

my rifle. I was hot wid rage against thim all, 
an' 1 worried the bullet out wid my teeth as fast 
as I cud, the room bein' empty. Then I tuk my 
boot an' the clanin'-rod and knocked out the pin 
av the fallin'-block. Oh, 'twas music when that 
pin rowled on the flure! 1 put ut into my pouch 
an' stuck a dab av dirt on the holes in the plate, 
puttin' the fallin'-block back. 'That'll do your 
business, Vulmea,' sez 1, lyin' easy on the cot. 
* Come an' sit on my chest the whole room av 
you, an' I will take you to my bosom for the big- 
gest divils that iver cheated halter.' 1 would 
have no mercy on Vulmea. His oi or his life — 
little 1 cared! 

" At dusk they came back, the twelve av thim, 
an' they had all been dhrinkin'. 1 was shammin' 
sleep on the cot. Wan man wint outside in the 
veranda. Whin he whishtled they began to rage 
roun' the room an' carry on tremenjus. But I 
r.iver want to hear men laugh as they did — sky- 
larkin' too! 'Twas like mad jackals. 

" ' Shtop that blasted noise! ' sez O'Hara in the 
dark, an' pop goes the room lamp. 1 cud hear 
O'Hara runnin' up an' the rattlin' av my rifle in 
the rack an' the men breathin' heavy as they stud 
roun' my cot. I cud see O'Hara in the light av 
the veranda lamp, an' thin I heard the crack av 
my rifle. She cried loud, poor darlint, bein' mis- 
handled. Next minut' five men were houldin' 

592 Indian Tales 

me down. 'Go easy,' I sez; 'f what's ut all 
about ? ' 

"Thin Vulmea, on the flure, raised a howl you 
cud hear from wan ind av cantonmints to the 
other, 'I'm dead, I'm butchered, I'm blind!' sez 
he. 'Saints have mercy on my sinful sowl! 
Sind for Father Constant! Oh sind for Father 
Constant an' let me go clean!' By that I knew 
he was not so dead as I cud ha' wished. 

"O'Hara picks up the lamp in the veranda wid 
a hand as stiddy as a rest. 'Fwhat damned 
dog's thrick is this av yours?' sez he, and turns 
the light on Tim Vulmea that was shwimmin' in 
blood from top to toe. The fallin'-block had 
sprung free behin' a full charge av powther — 
^vod care \ tuk to bite down the brass afther 
takin' out the bullet that there might be some- 
thin* to give ut full worth — an' had cut Tim 
from the lip to the corner av the right eye, lavin' 
the eyelid in tatthers, an' so up an' along by the 
forehead to the hair. 'Twas more av a rakin' 
plough, if you will ondherstand, than a clean cut; 
an' niver did I see a man bleed as Vulmea did. 
The dhrink an' the stew that he was in pumped 
the blood strong. The minut' the men sittin' on 
my chest heard O'Hara spakin' they scatthered 
each wan to his cot, an' cried out very politeful: 
' Fwhat is ut, Sargint } ' 

"'Fwhat is ut!' sez O'Hara, shakin' Tim. 

Black Jack ,593 

'Well an' good do you know fwhat ut is, ye 
skulkin' ditch-lurkin' dogs! Get a doolie, an' 
take this whimperin' scutt away. There will 
be more heard av ut than any av you will care 

" Vulmea sat up rockin' his head in his hand 
an' moanin' for Father Constant. 

" ' Be done!' sez O'Hara, dhraggin' him up by 
the hair. ' You're none so dead that you cannot 
go fifteen years for thryin' to shoot me.' 

"'1 did not,' sez Vulmea; 'I was shootin' 

" 'That's quare,' sez O'Hara, ' for the front av 
my jackut is black wid your powther.' He tuk 
up the rifle that was still warm an' began to 
laugh. 'I'll make your life Hell to you,' sez he, 
• for attempted murdher an' kapin' your rifle on- 
properly. You'll be hanged first an' thin put 
undher stoppages for four fifteen. The rifle's 
done for," sez he. 

"'Why, 'tis my rifle!' sez I, comin' up to 
look; 'Vulmea, ye divil, fwhat were you doin' 
wid her — answer me that?' 

" * Lave me alone,' sez Vulmea; ' I'm dyin'i ' 

"Til wait till you're betther,' sez I, 'an' thin 
we two will talk ut out umbrageous.' 

"O'Hara pitched Tim into the doolie, none too 
tinder, but all the bhoys kep' by their cots, which 
was not the sign av innocint men. I was huntin' 

594 Indian Tales 

ivrywhere for my fallin'-block, but not findin' ut 
at all. I niver found ut. 

" ' Now fwhat will I do ?' sez O'Hara, swing- 
ing the veranda light in his hand an' lookin' down 
the room. I had hate and contimpt av O'Hara 
an' 1 have now, dead tho' he is, but, for all that, 
will I say he was a brave man. He is baskin' in 
Purgathory this tide, but I wish he cud hear that, 
whin he stud lookin' down the room an' the 
bhoys shivered before the oi av him, I knew him 
for a brave man an' I liked him so. 

" ' Fwhat will I do .^ ' sez O'Hara agin, an' we 
heard the voice av a woman low an' sof in the 
veranda. 'Twas Slimmy's wife, come over at 
the shot, sittin' on wan av the benches an' scarce 
able to walk. 

"'O Denny! — Denny, dear,' sez she, 'have 
they kilt you.^' 

"O'Hara looked down the room again an' 
showed his teeth to the gum. Then he spat on 
the flure. 

" 'You're not worth ut,' sez he. ' Light that 
lamp, ye dogs,' an' wid that he turned away, an' 
I saw him walkin' off wid Slimmy's wife; she 
thryin' to wipe off the powther-black on the front 
av his jackut wid her handkerchief. 'A brave man 
you are,' thinks I — 'a brave man an' a bad woman.' 

"No wan said a word for a time. They was 
all ashamed, past spache. 

Black Jack 595 

" ' Fwhat d'you think he will do ? ' sez wan av 
thim at last. ' He knows we're all in ut.' 

"'Are we so?' sez 1 from my cot. 'The 
man that sez that to me will be hurt. I do not 
know,' sez I, 'fwhat onderhand divilmint you 
have conthrived, but by what I've seen 1 know 
that you cannot commit murdher wid another 
man's rifle — such shakin' cowards you are. I'm 
goin' to slape,' I sez, ' an' you can blow my head 
off whoile 1 lay.' 1 did not slape, though, for a 
long time. Can ye wonder ? 

" Next morn the news was through all the rig'- 
mint, an' there was nothin' that the men did not 
tell. O'Hara reports, fair an' easy, that Vulmea 
was come to grief through tamperin' wid his 
rifle in barricks, all for to show the mechanism. 
An' by my sowl, he had the impart'nince to say 
that he was on the sphot at the time an' cud cer- 
tify that ut was an accidint! You might ha' 
knocked my roomful down wid a straw whin 
they heard that. 'Twas lucky for thim that the 
bhoys were always thryin' to find out how the 
new rifle was made, an' a lot av thim had come 
up for easin' the pull by shtickin' bits av grass 
an' such in the part av the lock that showed near 
the thrigger. The first issues of the 'Tinis was 
not covered in, an' I mesilf have eased the pull 
av mine time an' agin. A light pull is ten points 
on the range to me. 

596 Indian Tales 

"'I will not have this foolishness!' sez the 
Colonel. 'I will twist the tail off Vulmea!' sez 
he; but whin he saw him, all tied up an' groanin' 
in hospital, he changed his will. ' Make him an 
early convalescint,' sez he to the Doctor, an' 
Vulmea was made so for a warnin'. His big 
bloody bandages an' face puckered up to wan 
side did more to kape the bhoys from messin' 
wid the insides av their rifles than any punishmint. 

"O'Hara gave no reason for fwhat he'd said, 
an' all my roomful were too glad to inquire, tho' 
he put his spite upon thim more wearin' than be- 
fore. Wan day, howiver, he tuk me apart very 
polite, for he cud be that at the choosin'. 

" ' You're a good sodger, tho' you're a damned 
insolint man,' sez he. 

" ' Fair words, Sargint,' sez I, ' or I may be in- 
solint again.' 

" ' 'Tis not like you,' sez he, 'to lave your rifle 
in the rack widout the breech-pin, for widout the 
breech-pin she was whin Vulmea fired. I should 
ha' found the break av ut in the eyes av the 
holes, else,' he sez. 

"'Sargint,' sez I, 'fwhat wud your life ha' 
been worth av the breech-pin had been in place, 
for, on my sowl, my life wud be worth just as 
much to me av I tould you whether ut was or 
was not. Be thankful the bullet was not there,' 
I sez. 

Black Jack $97 

" 'That's thrue,' sez he, pulling his moustache; 
* but I do not believe that you, for all your lip, 
was in that business.' 

" ' Sargint,' sez 1, ' I cud hammer the life out 
av a man in ten minuts wid my fistes if that man 
dishpleased me; for 1 am a good sodger, an' I 
will be threated as such, an' whoile my tlstes are 
my own they're strong enough for all work I 
have to do. They do not fly back toward me!' 
sez I, lookin' him betune the eyes. 

" ' You're a good man,' sez he, lookin' me be- 
tune the eyes — an' oh he was a gran'-built man 
to see! — 'you're a good man,' he sez, 'an' 1 cud 
wish, for the pure frolic av ut, that I was not 
a Sargint, or that you were not a Privit; an' 
you will think me no coward whin 1 say this 

" 'I do not,' sez I. 'I saw you whin Vulmea 
mishandled the rifle. But, Sargint,' 1 sez, 'take 
the wurrd from me now, spakin' as man to man 
, wid the shtripes off, tho' 'tis little right I have to 
talk, me being fwhat 1 am by natur'. This time 
ye tuk no harm, an' next time ye may not, but, 
in the ind, so sure as Slimmy's wife came into 
the veranda, so sure will ye take harm — an' bad 
harm. Have thought, Sargint,' sez I. 'Is ut 
worth ut .? ' 

" ' Ye're a bould man,' sez he, breathin' harrd. 
*A very bould man. But I am a bould man tu. 

598 Indian Tales 

Do you go your way, Privit Mulvaney, an' I will 
go mine.' 

" We had no further spache thin or afther, but, 
wan by another, he drafted the twelve av my 
room out into other rooms an' got thim spread 
among the Comp'nies, for they was not a good 
breed to live together, an' the Comp'ny orf'cers 
saw ut. They wud ha' shot me in the night av 
they had known fwhat I knew; but that they 
did not. 

"An', in the ind, as 1 said, O'Hara met his 
death from Rafferty for foolin' wid his wife. He 
wint his own way too well — Eyah, too well! 
Shtraight to that affair, widout turnin' to the 
right or to the lef, he wint, an' may the Lord 
have mercy on his sowl. Amin!" 

"'Ear! 'Ear!" said Ortheris, pointing the 
moral with a wave of his pipe. " An' this is 'im 
'oo would be a bloomin' Vulmea all for the sake 
of Mullins an' a bloomin' button! MuUins never 
went after a woman in his life. Mrs. Mullins, 
she saw 'im one day " — 

"Ortheris," I said, hastily, for the romances of 
Private Ortheris are all too daring for publication, 
" look at the sun. It's quarter past six! " 

"O Lord! Three quarters of an hour for five 
an' a 'arf miles! We'll 'ave to run like Jimmy 

The Three Musketeers clambered on to the 

Black Jack 599 

bridge, and departed hastily in the direction of 
the cantonment road. When I overtook them I 
offered them two stirrups and a tail, which they 
accepted enthusiastically. Ortheris held the tail, 
and in this manner we trotted steadily through 
the shadows by an unfrequented road. 

At the turn into the cantonments we heard 
carriage wheels. It was the Colonel's barouche, 
and in it sat the Colonel's wife and daughter. I 
caught a suppressed chuckle, and my beast 
sprang forward with a lighter step. 

The Three Musketeers had vanished into th« 


So we loosed a bloomin' volley, 
An' we made the beggars cut, 
An' when our pouch was emptied out. 
We used the blooinin' butt, 
Ho ! My ! 

Don't yer come anigh. 
When Tommy is a playin' with the baynit an' the butt. 
Barrack Room Ballad. 

MY friend Private Muivaney toid me this, sit- 
ting on the parapet of the road to Dagshai, 
when we were hunting butterflies together. He 
had theories about the Army, and colored clay 
pipes perfectly. He said that the young soldier 
is the best to work with, "on account av the 
surpassing innocinse av the child." 

"Now, listen!" said Muivaney, throwing him- 
self full length on the wall in the sun, "I'm a 
born scutt av the barrick-room! The Army's 
mate an' dhrink to me, bekaze I'm wan av the 
few that can't quit ut. I've put in sivinteen 
years, an' the pipeclay's in the marrow av me. 
Av I cud have kept out av wan big dhrink a 
month, I wud have been a Hon'ry Lift'nint by 
this time — a nuisince to my betthers, a laughin'- 
shtock to my equils, an' a curse to meself. Bein' 

The Taking of Lungtungpen 6oi 

fwhat I am, I'm Privit Mulvaney, wid no good- 
conduc' pay an' a devourin' thirst. Always 
barrin' me little frind Bobs Bahadur, 1 know as 
much about the Army as most men." 

1 said something here. 

"Wolseiey be shot! Betune you an' me an* 
that butterfly net, he's a ramblin', incoherint sort 
av a divil, wid wan oi on the Quane an' the 
Coort, an' the other on his blessed silf — everlast- 
in"Iy playing Saysar an' Alexandrier rowled into 
a lump. Now Bobs is a sinsible little man. Wid 
Bobs an' a few three-year-olds, I'd swape any 
army av the earth into a towel, an' throw it away 
aftherward. Faith, I'm not jokin'! 'Tis the 
bhoys — the raw bhoys — that don't know fwhat 
a bullut manes, an' wudn't care av they did — 
that dhu the work. They're crammed wid bull- 
mate till they fairly ramps wid good livin' ; and 
thin, av they don't fight, they blow each other's 
hids off. 'Tis the trut' I'm tellin' you. They 
shud be kept on water an' rice in the hot 
weather; but there'd be a mut'ny av 'twas done. 

"Did ye iver hear how Privit Mulvaney tuk 
the town av Lungtungpen? I thought not! 
'Twas the Lift'nint got the credit; but 'twas me 
planned the schame. A little before I was in- 
viladed from Burma, me an' four-an'-twenty 
young wans undher a Lift'nint Brazenose, was 
ruinin' our dijeshins thryin' to catch dacoits. An' 

6o2 Indian Tales 

such double-ended divils I niver knew! 'Tis 
only a dah an' a Snider that makes a dacoit. 
Widout thim, he's a paceful cultivator, an' felony 
for to shoot. We hunted, an' we hunted, an' 
tuk fever an' elephints now an' again; but no 
dacoits. Evenshually, we puckarowed wan man. 
'Trate him tinderly,' sez the Lift'nint. So I tuk 
him away into the jungle, wid the Burmese In- 
terprut'r an' my clanin'-rod. Sez I to the man, 
'My paceful squireen,' sez I, 'you shquot on 
your hunkers an' dimonstrate to my frind here, 
where >'OMr f rinds are whin they're at home.?' 
Wid that I introjuced him to the clanin'-rod, an' 
he comminst to jabber; the Interprut'r inter- 
prutin' in betweens, an' me helpin' the Intilligince 
Departmint wid my clanin'-rod whin the man 

" Prisintly, I learn that, acrost the river, about 
nine miles away, was a town just dhrippin' wid 
dahs, an' bohs an' arrows, an' dacoits, and ele- 
phints, an' jingles. ' Good I ' sez 1 ; ' this office 
will now close!' 

"That night, I went to the Lift'nint an' com^ 
municates my information. 1 never thought 
much of Lift'nint Brazenose till that night. He 
was shtiflf wid books an' the-ouries, an' all man- 
ner av thrimmin's no manner av use. 'Town 
did ye say?' sez he. ' Accordin' to the the- 
ouries av War, we shud wait for reinforcemints.' 

The Taking of Ltingtiingpen 603 

— ' Faith!' thinks I, ' we'd betther dig our graves 
thin;' for the nearest throops was up to their 
shtocks in the marshes out Mimbu way. ' But,* 
says the Lift'nint, ' since 'tis a speshil case, I'll 
make an excepshin. We'll visit this Lungtung- 
pen to-night.' 

"The bhoys was fairly woild wid deloight 
whin 1 tould 'em; an', by this an' that, they wint 
through the jungle like buck-rabbits. About 
midnight we come to the shtrame which I had 
clane forgot to minshin to my orficer. I was on, 
ahead, wid four bhoys, an' I thought that the 
Lift'nint might want to the-ourise. 'Shtrip 
boys!' sez 1. 'Shtrip to the buff, an' shwim in 
where glory waits!' — 'But I cants\\vj\m\' sez 
two av thim. 'To think I should live to hear 
that from a bhoy wid a board-school edukashin!' 
sez I. 'Take a lump av timber, an' me an' 
Conoily here will ferry ye over, ye young ladies! ' 

"We got an ould tree-trunk, an' pushed off 
wid the kits an' the rifles on it. The night was 
chokin' dhark, an' just as we was fairly embarked, 
I heard the Lift'nint behind av me callin' out. 
'There's a bit av a inillah here, sorr,' sez I, 'but 
I can feel the bottom already.' So 1 cud, for 1 
was not a yard from the bank. 

"'Bit av a nullah! Bit av an eshtuary!' sez 
the Lift'nint. 'Go on, ye mad Irishman! Shtrip 
bhoys! ' I heard him laugh; an' the bhoys begun 

(5o4 Indian Tales 

shtrippin' an rollin' a log into the wather to put 
their kits on. So me an' Conolly shtruck out 
through the warm \A'ather wid our log, an' the 
rest come on behind. 

" That shtrame was miles woide! Orth'ris, on 
the rear-rank log, whispers we had got into the 
Thames below Sheern^ss by mistake. ' Kape on 
shwimmin', ye little blayguard,' sez 1, 'an' don't 
go pokin' your dirty jokes at the Irriwaddy.'— 
'Silince, men!' sings out the Lift'nint. So we 
shwum on into the black dhark, wid our chests 
on the logs, trustin' in the Saints an' the luck av 
the British Army. 

" Evenshually, we hit ground — a bit av sand — 
an' a man. 1 put my heel on the back av him. 
He skreeched an' ran. 

" * Now we've done it! ' sez Lift'nint Brazenose. 
' Where the Divil is Lungtungpen } ' There was 
about a minute and a half to wait. The bhoys 
laid a hould av their rifles an' some thried to put 
their belts on; we was marchin' wid fixed bay- 
nits av coorse. Thin we knew where Lungtung- 
pen was; for we had hit the river-wall av it in 
the dhark, an' the whole town blazed wid thim 
messin' jingles an' Sniders like a cat's back on a 
frosty night. They was firin' all ways at wanst; 
but over our bids into the shtrame. 

'"Have you got your rifles?' sez Brazenose. 
'Got 'em!' sez Orth'ris. 'I've got that thief 

The Taking of Lungtungpen 605 

Mulvaney's for all my back-pay, an' she'll kick 
my heart sick wid that blunderin' long shtock av 
hers.' — 'Go on!' yells Brazenose, whippin' his 
sword out. * Go on an' take the town! An' the 
Lord have mercy on our sowls! ' 

"Thin the bhoys gave wan divastatin' howl, 
an' pranced into the dhark, feelin' for the town, 
an' blindin' an' stiffm' like Cavalry Ridin' Masters 
whin the grass pricked their bare legs. 1 ham- 
mered wid the butt at some bamboo-thing that 
felt wake, an' the rest come an' hammered con- 
tagious, while the jingles was jingling, an' fero- 
shus yells from inside was shplittin' our ears. 
We was too close under the wall for thim to 
hurt us. 

" Evenshually, the thing, whatever ut was, 
bruk; an' the six-and-twinty av us tumbled, wan 
after the other, naked as we was borrun, into 
the town of Lungtungpen. There was a melly 
av a sumpshus kind for a whoile; but whether 
they tuk us, all white an' wet, for a new breed 
av divil, or a new kind av dacoit, I don't know. 
They ran as though we was both, an' we wint 
into thim, baynit an' butt, shriekin' wid laughin'. 
There was torches in the shtreets, an' I saw little 
Orth'ris rubbin' his showlther ivry time he loosed 
my long-shtock Martini; an' Brazenose walkin' 
Into the gang wid his sword, like Diarmid av the 
Gowlden Collar — barring he hadn't a stitch av 

5o6 Indian Tales 

clothin' on him. We diskivered elephints wid 
dacoits under their belUes, an', what wid wan 
thing an' another, we was busy till mornin' takin' 
possession av the town of Lungtungpen. 

"Thin we halted an' formed up, the wimmen 
howlin' in the houses an' Lift'nint Brazenose 
blushin' pink in the light av the mornin' sun. 
'Twas the most ondasint p'rade 1 iver tuk a hand 
in. Foive-and-twenty privits an' a orficer av the 
Line in review ordher, an' not as much as wud 
dust a fife betune 'em all in the way of clothin' 1 
Eight av us had their belts an' pouches on; but 
the rest had gone in wid a handful av cartridges 
an" the skin God gave thim. They was as nakid 
as Vanus. 

"'Number off from the right!' sez the Lift'- 
nint. 'Odd numbers fall out to dress; even 
numbers pathrol the town till relieved by the 
dressing party.' Let me tell you, pathrollin' a 
town wid nothing on is an ex/)j>'rience. I 
pathrolled for tin minutes, an' begad, before 
'twas over, I blushed. The women laughed so, 
1 niver blushed before or since; but I blushed all 
over my carkiss thin. Orth'ris didn't pathrol. 
He sez only, ' Portsmith Barricks an' the 'Ard av 
a Sunday!' Thin he lay down an' rowled any 
ways wid laughin'. 

"Whin we was all dhressed, we counted the 
dead — sivinty-foive dacoits besides wounded* 

The Taking of Ltmgtungpen 607 

We tuk five elephints, a hunder' an' sivinty 
Sniders, two hunder' dahs, and a lot av other 
burglarious thruck. Not a man av us was hurt 
— excep' maybe the Lift'nint, an' he from the 
shock to his dasincy. 

"The Headman av Lungtungpen, who sur- 
rinder'd himself, asked the Interprutr — ' 'Av the 
English fight like that wid their clo'es off, what 
in the wurruld do they do wid their clo'es on?' 
Orth'ris began rowlin' his eyes an' crackin' his 
fingers an' dancin' a step-dance for to impress the 
Headman. He ran to his house; an' we spint the 
rest av the day carryin' the Lift'nint on our 
showlthers round the town, an' playin' wid the 
Burmese babies — fat, little, brown little divils, as 
pretty as picturs. 

"Whin I was inviladed for the dysent'ry to 
India, I sez to the Lift'nint, 'Sorr,' sez 1, 'you've 
the makin's in you av a great man; but, av you'll 
let an ould sodger spake, you're too fond of the- 
ourisin'.' He shuk hands wid me and sez, ' Hit 
high, hit low, there's no plasin' you, Mulvaney. 
You've seen me waltzin' through Lungtungpen 
like a Red Injin widout the warpaint, an' you say 
I'm too fond av the-ourisin' ?' — ' Sorr,' sez I, for I 
loved the bhoy; ' I wud waltz wid you in that 
condishin through Hell, an' so wud the rest av 
the men! ' Thin 1 wint downshtrame in the flat 
an' left him my blessin'. May the Saints carry ut 

6o8 Indian Tales 

where ut shud go, for he was a fine upstandin' 
young orficer. 

"To reshume. Fwhat I've said jist shows the 
use av three-year-olds. Wud fifty seasoned 
sodgers have taken Lungtungpen in the dhark 
that way ? No! They'd know the risk av fever 
and chill. Let alone the shootin*. Two hundher' 
might have done ut. But the three-year-olds 
know little an' care less; an' where there's no 
fear, there's no danger. Catch thim young, feed 
thim high, an' by the honor av that great, little 
man Bobs, behind a good orficer 'tisn't only 
dacoits they'd smash wid their clo'es off — 'tis 
Con-ti-nental Ar-r-r-mies! They tuk Lungtung- 
pen nakid; an' they'd take St. Pethersburg in 
their dhrawers! Begad, they would that! 

" Here's your pipe, sorr. Shmoke her tinderly 
wid honey-dew, afther letting the reek av the 
Canteen plug die away. But 'tis no good, thanks 
to you all the same, fillin' my pouch wid your 
chopped hay. Canteen baccy's like the Army. 
It shpoils a man's taste for moilder things." 

So saying, Mulvaney took up his butterfly-net, 
and returned to barracks. 


May no ill dreams disturb my rest, 
Nor Powers of Darkness me molest. 

— Evening Hymn, 

ONE of the few advantages that India has 
over England is a great Knowability. 
After five years' service a man is directly or in- 
directly acquainted with the two or three hun- 
dred Civilians in his Province, all the Messes of 
ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some 
fifteen hundred other people of the non-official 
caste. In ten years his knowledge should be 
doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or 
knows something about, every Englishman in 
the Empire, and may travel anywhere and every- 
where without paying hotel-bills. 

Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a 
/ight, have, even within my memory, blunted 
this open-heartedness, but none the less to-day, 
if you belong to the Inner Circle and are neither 
a Bear nor a Black Sheep, all houses are open to 
you, and our small world is very, very kind and 

Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of 

6io Indian Tales 

Kumaon some fifteen years ago. He meant to 
stay two nights, but was knocked down by 
rheumatic fever, and for six weeks disorganized 
Polder's establishment, stopped Polder's w ork, 
and nearly died in Polder's bedroom. Folder 
behaves as though he had been placed under 
eternal obligation by Rickett, and yearly sends 
the little Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It 
is the same everywhere. The men who do not 
take the trouble to conceal from you their opin- 
ion that you are an incompetent ass, and the 
women who blacken your character and mis- 
understand your wife's amusements, will work 
themselves to the bone in your behalf if you fall 
sick or into serious trouble. 

Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his 
regular practice, a hospital on his private account 
— an arrangement of loose boxes for Incurables, 
his friend called it — but it was really a sort of 
fitting-up shed for craft that had been damaged 
by stress of weather. The weather in India is 
often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is always 
a fixed quantity, and the only liberty allowed is 
permission to work overtime and get no thanks, 
men occasionally break down and become as 
mixed as the metaphors in this sentence. 

Heatherlegh is the dearest doctor that ever 
was, and his invariable prescription to all his 
patients is, "lie low, go slow, and keep cool." 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 6ii 

He says that more men are killed by overwork 
than the importance of this world justifies. He 
maintains that overwork slew Pansay, who died 
under his hands about three years ago. He has, 
of course, the right to speak authoritatively, and 
he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in 
Pansay's head and a little bit of the Dark World 
came through and pressed him to death. *' Pan- 
say went off the handle," says Heatherlegh, 
"after the stimulus of long leave at Home. He 
may or he may not have behaved like a black- 
guard to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is 
that the work of the Katabundi Settlement ran 
him off his legs, and that he took to brooding 
and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirta- 
tion. He certainly was engaged to Miss Man- 
nering, and she certainly broke off the engage- 
ment. Then he took a feverish chill and all that 
nonsense about ghosts developed. Overwork 
started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him, 
poor devil. Write him off to the System — one 
man to take the work of two and a half men." 

I do not believe this. I used to sit up with 
Pansay sometimes when Heatherlegh was called 
out to patients, and 1 happened to be within 
claim. The man would make me most unhappy 
by describing in a low, even voice, the proces- 
sion that was always passing at the bottom of 
his bed. He had a sick man's command of Ian- 

6i2 Indian Tales 

guage. When he recovered I suggested that he 
should write out the whole affair from beginning 
to end, knowing that ink might assist him to 
ease his mind. When little boys have learned a 
new bad word they are never happy till they 
have chalked it up on a door. And this also is 

He was in a high fever while he was writing, 
and the blood-and-thunder Magazine diction he 
adopted did not calm him. Two months after- 
ward he was reported Jt for duty, but, in spite 
of the fact that he was urgently needed to help 
an undermanned Commission stagger through a 
deficit, he preferred to die; vowing at the last 
that he was hag-ridden. I got his manuscript 
before he died, and this is his version of the 
affair, dated 1885: 

My doctor tells me that I need rest and change 
of air. It is not improbable that 1 shall get both 
ere long — rest that neither the red-coated mes- 
senger nor the midday gun can break, and 
change of air far beyond that which any home- 
ward-bound steamer can give me. In the mean- 
time I am resolved to stay where I am; and, in 
flat defiance of my doctor's orders, to take all the 
world into my confidence. You shall learn for 
yourselves the precise nature of my malady; and 
shall, too, judge for yourselves whether any man 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 613 

born of woman on this weary earth was ever 
so tormented as I. 

Speaking now as a condemned criminal might 
speak ere the drop-bolts are drawn, my story, 
wild and hideously improbable as it may appear, 
demands at least attention. That it will ever 
receive credence 1 utterly disbelieve. Two 
months ago 1 should have scouted as mad or 
drunk the man who had dared tell me the like. 
Two months ago I was the happiest man in 
India. To-day, from Peshawur to the sea, there 
is no one more wretched. My doctor and I are 
the only two who know this. His explanation 
is, that my brain, digestion, and eyesight are all 
slightly affected; giving rise to my f.equent and 
persistent "delusions." Delusions, indeed! I 
call him a fooi; but he attends me still with the 
same unwearied smile, the same bland pro- 
fessional manner, the same neatly trimmed red 
whiskers, till 1 begin to suspect that 1 am an un- 
grateful, evil-tempered invalid. But you shall 
judge for yourselves. 

Three years ago it was my fortune — my great 
misfortune — to sail from Gravesend to Bombay, 
on return from long leave, with one Agnes 
Keith-Wessington, wife of an officer on the 
Bombay side. It does not in the least concern 
you to know what manner of woman she was. 
Be content with the knowledge that, ere the 

6i4 mdian Tales 

voyage had ended, both she and I were desper- 
ately and unreasoningly in love with one another. 
Heaven knows that I can make the admission 
now without one particle of vanity. In matters 
of this sort there is always one who gives and 
another who accepts. From the first day of our 
ill-omened attachment, 1 was conscious that 
Agnes's passion was a stronger, a more dom- 
inant, and — if I may use the expression — a 
purer sentiment than mine. Whether she recog- 
nized the fact then, I do not know. Afterward 
it was bitterly plain to both of us. 

Arrived at Bombay in the spring of the year, 
we went our respective ways, to meet no more 
for the next three or four months, when my leave 
and her love took us both to Simla. There we 
spent the season together; and there my tire of 
straw burned itself out to a pitiful end with 
the closing year. 1 attempt no excuse. I make 
no apology. Mrs. Wessington had given up 
much for my sake, and was prepared to give up 
all. From my own lips, in August, 1882, she 
learned that I was sick of her presence, tired of 
her company, and weary of the sound of her 
voice. Ninety-nine women out of a hundred 
would have wearied of me as I wearied of them; 
seventy-five of that number would have promptly 
avenged themselves by active and obtrusive flir- 
tation with other men. Mrs. Wessington was the 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 615 

hundredth. On her neither my openly expressed 
aversion nor the cutting brutahties with which I 
garnished our interviews had the least effect. 

"Jack, darling!" was her one eternal cuckoo 
cry: "I'm sure it's all a mistake — a hideous mis- 
take; and we'll be good friends again some day. 
Please forgive me, Jack, dear." 

I was the offender, and I knew it. That 
knowledge transformed my pity into passive en- 
durance, and, eventually, into bHnd hate — the 
same instinct, I suppose, which prompts a man 
to savagely stamp on the spider he has but half 
killed. And with this hate in my bosom the 
season of 1882 came to an Qwd. 

Next year we met again at Simla — she with her 
monotonous face and timid attempts at reconcili- 
ation, and 1 with loathing of her in every fibre 
of my frame. Several times I could not avoid 
meeting her alone; and on each occasion her 
words were identically the same. Still the un- 
reasoning wail that it was ill a " mistake "; and 
still the hope of eventually " making friends." I 
might have seen had I cared to look, that that 
hope only was keeping her alive. She grew 
more wan and thin month by month. You will 
agree with me, at least, that such conduct would 
have driven any one to despair. It was uncalled 
for; childish; unwomanly. I maintain that she 
was much to blame. And again,, in 

6i6 Indian Tales 

the black, fever-stricken night-watches, I have 
begun to think that I might have been a little 
kinder to her. But that really is a "delusion." 
1 could not have continued pretending to love her 
when I didn't; could 1 ? It would have been un- 
fair to us both. 

Last year we met again — on the same terms as 
before. The same weary appeals, and the same 
curt answers from my lips. At least I would 
make her see how wholly wrong and hopeless 
were her attempts at resuming the old relation- 
ship. As the season wore on, we fell apart — 
that is to say, she found it difficult to meet me, 
for I had other and more absorbing interests to 
attend to. When 1 think it over quietly in my 
sick-room, the season of 1884 seems a confused 
nightmare wherein light and shade were fan- 
tastically intermingled — my courtship of little 
Kitty Mannering; my hopes, doubts, and fears; 
our long rides together; my trembling avowal of 
attachment; her reply; and now and again a 
vision of a white face flitting by in the 'rickshaw 
with the black and white liveries I once watched 
for so earnestly; the wave of Mrs. Wessington's 
gloved hand; and, when she met me alone, 
which was but seldom, the irksome monotony of 
her appeal. I loved Kitty Mannering; honestly, 
heartily loved her, and with my love for her grew 
my hatred for Agnes. In August Kitty and I 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 617 

were engaged. The next day I met those ac- 
cursed "magpie" jhampanies at the back of 
Jakko, and, moved by some passing sentiment of 
pity, stopped to tell Mrs. Wessington everything. 
She knew it already. 

"So 1 hear you're engaged, Jack dear." Then, 
without a moment's pause: — "I'm sure it's all a 
mistake — a hideous mistake. We shall be as 
good friends some day. Jack, as we ever were." 

My answer might have made even a man wince. 
It cut the dying woman before me like the blow 
of a whip. ".Please forgive me, Jack; I didn't 
mean to make you angry; but it's true, it's true!" 

And Mrs. Wessington broke down completely. 
I turned away and left her to finish her journey 
in peace, feeling, but only for a moment or two, 
that I had been an unutterably mean hound. I 
looked back, and saw that she had turned her 
'rickshaw with the idea, I suppose, of overtaking 

The scene and its surroundings were photo- 
graphed on my memory. The rain-swept sky 
(we were at the end of the wet weather), the 
sodden, dingy pines, the muddy road, and the 
black powder-riven cliffs formed a gloomy back- 
ground against which the black and white liveries 
of the jhampanies, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw 
and Mrs. Wessington's down-bowed golden head 
stood out clearly. She was holding her handker- 

6i8 Indian Tales 

chief in her left hand and was leaning back ex- 
hausted against the 'rickshaw cushions. I turned 
my horse up a bypath near the Saniowlie Reser- 
voir and literally ran away. Once I fancied I 
heard a faint call of "Jack!" This may have 
been imagination. 1 never stopped to verify it. 
Ten minutes later I came across Kitty on horse- 
back; and, in the delight of a long ride with her, 
forgot all about the interview. 

A week later Mrs. Wessington died, and the 
inexpressible burden of her existence was re- 
moved from my life. I went Plainsward per- 
fectly happy. Before three months v/ere over I 
had forgotten all about her, except that at times 
the discovery of some of her old letters reminded 
me unpleasantly of our bygone relationship. By 
January 1 had disinterred what was left of our 
correspondence from among my scattered be- 
longings and had burned it. At the beginning of 
April of this year, 1885, I was at Simla — semi- 
deserted Simla — once more, and was deep in 
lover's talks and walks with Kitty. It was de- 
cided that we should be married at the end of 
June. You will understand, therefore, that, lov- 
ing Kitty as I did, 1 am not saying too much 
when 1 pronounce myself to have been, at that 
time, the happiest man in India. 

Fourteen delightful days passed almost before 
I noticed their flight. Then, aroused to the sense 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 619 

of what was proper among mortals circum- 
stanced as we were, I pointed out to Kitty that 
an engagement ring was the outward and visible 
sign of her dignity as an engaged girl; and that 
she must forthwith come to Hamilton's to be 
measured for one. Up to that moment, I give 
you my word, we had completely forgotten so 
trivial a matter. To Hamilton's we accordingly 
went on the 15th of April, 1885. Remember 
that — whatever my doctor may say to the con- 
trary — I was then in perfect health, enjoying a 
well-balanced mind and an absolutely tranquil 
spirit. Kitty and I entered Hamilton's shop to- 
gether, and there, regardless of the order of 
affairs, I measured Kitty for the ring in the pres- 
ence of the amused assistant. The ring was a 
sapphire with two diamonds. We then rode out 
down the slope that leads to the Combermere 
Bridge and Peliti's shop. 

While my Waler was cautiously feeling his 
way over the loose shale, and Kitty was laugh- 
ing and chattering at my side — while all Simla, 
that is to say as much of it as had then come 
from the Plains, was grouped round the Reading- 
room and Peliti's veranda, — I was aware that 
some one, apparently at a vast distance, was call- 
ing me by my Christian name. It struck me that 
I had heard the voice before, but when and where 
1 could not at once determine. In the short space 

620 Indian Tales 

it took to cover the road between the path from 
Hamilton's shop and the first plank of the Com- 
bermere Bridge I had thought over half a dozen 
people who might have committed such a sole- 
cism, and had eventually decided that it must have 
been singing in my ears. Immediately opposite 
Peliti's shop my eye was arrested by the sight of 
four jhampam'es in "magpie" livery, pulling a 
yellow-paneled, cheap, bazar 'rickshaw. In a 
moment my mind flew back to the previous sea- 
son and Mrs. Wessington with a sense of irrita- 
tion and disgust. Was it not enough that the 
woman was dead and done with, without her 
black and white servitors reappearing to spoil the 
day's happiness ? Whoever employed them now 
I thought I would call upon, and ask as a per- 
sonal favor to change her jhampanies' livery. I 
would hire the men myself, and, if necessary, 
buy their coats from off their backs. It is impos- 
sible to say here what a flood of undesirable 
memories their presence evoked. 

"Kitty," I cried, "there are poor Mrs. Wes- 
s'mgton's jhampanies turned up again ! I wonder 
who has them now ? " 

Kitty had known Mrs. Wessington slightly last 
season, and had always been interested in the 
sickly woman. 

"What.^ Where .^ " she asked. "I can't see 
them anywhere." 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 621 

Even as she spoke, her horse, swerving from a 
laden mule, threv^ himself directly in front of the 
advancing 'rickshaw. I had ccarcely time to 
utter a word of warning when, to my unutterable 
horror, horse and rider passed through men and 
carriage as if they had been thin air. 

"What's the matter.^" cried Kitty; "what 
made you call out so foolishly, jack ? If 1 am 
engaged 1 don't want all creation to know about 
it. There was lots of space between the mule 
and the veranda; and, if you think 1 can't ride 
— There!" 

Whereupon wilful Kitty set off, her dainty 
little head in the air, at a hand-gallop in the di- 
rection of the Band-stand; fully expecting, as 
she herself afterward told me, that 1 should fol- 
low her. What was the matter ? Nothing in- 
deed. Either that 1 was mad or drunk, or that 
Simla was haunted with devils. 1 reined in my 
impatient cob, and turned round. The 'rickshaw 
had turned too, and now stood immediately 
facing me, near the left railing of the Comber- 
mere Bridge. 

"Jack! Jack, darling!" (There was no mis- 
take about the words this time: they rang 
through my brain as if they had been shouted in 
my ear.) " It's some hideous mistake, I'm sure. 
Please forgive me, Jack, and let's be friends 

522 Indian Tales 

The rickshaw-hood had fallen back, and in- 
side, as I hope and pray daily for the death 1 
dread by night, sat Mrs. Keith-Wessington, 
handkerchief in hand, and golden head bowed 
on her breast. 

How long I stared motionless 1 do not know. 
Finally, I was aroused by my syce taking the 
Waler's bridle and asking whether I was ill. 
From the horrible to the commonplace is but 
a step. I tumbled off my horse and dashed, 
half fainting, into Peliti's for a glass of cherry- 
brandy. There two or three couples were gath- 
ered round the coffee-tables discussing the gos- 
sip of the day. Their trivialities were more 
comforting to me just then than the consolations 
of religion could have been. 1 plunged into the 
midst of the conversation at once; chatted, 
laughed, and jested with a face (when I caught 
a glimpse of it in a mirror) as white and drawn 
as that of a corpse. Three or four men noticed 
my condition; and, evidently setting it down to 
the results of over-many pegs, charitably en- 
deavored to draw me apart from the rest of the 
loungers. But I refused to be led away. I 
wanted the company of my kind — as a child 
rushes into the midst of the dinner-party after a 
fright in the dark. I must have talked for about 
ten minutes or so, though it seemed an eternity 
to me, when I heard Kitty's clear voice outside 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 623 

inquiring for me. In another minute she had 
entered the shop, prepared to roundly upbraid 
me for failing so signally in my duties. Some- 
thing in my face stopped her. 

"Why, Jack," she cried, "what have you 
been doing ? What has happened ? Are you 
ill ? " Thus driven into a direct lie, I said that 
the sun had been a little too much for me. It 
was close upon five o'clock of a cloudy April 
afternoon, and the sun had been hidden all day. 
1 saw my mistake as soon as the words were out 
of my mouth: attempted to recover it; blun- 
dered hopelessly and followed Kitty in a regal 
rage, out of doors, amid the smiles of my 
acquaintances. I made some excuse (1 have for- 
gotten what) on the score of my feeling faint; 
and cantered away to my hotel, leaving Kitty to 
finish the ride by herself. 

In my room 1 sat down and tried calmly to 
reason out the matter. Here was I, Theobald 
Jack Pansay, a well-educated Bengal Civilian in 
the year of grace 188s, presumably sane, cer- 
tainly healthy, driven in terror from my sweet- 
heart's side by the apparition of a woman who 
had been dead and buried eight months ago. 
These were facts that I could not blink. Noth- 
ing was further from my thought than any 
memory of Mrs. Wessington when Kitty and 1 
left Hamilton's shop. Nothing was more utterly 

624 Indian Tales 

commonplace than the stretch of wall opposite 
Peliti's. It was broad daylight. The road was 
full of people; and yet here, look you, in de- 
fiance of every law of probability, in direct out- 
rage of Nature's ordinance, there had appeared to 
me a face from the grave. 

Kitty's Arab had gone //^roz/^/? the 'rickshaw: 
so that my first hope that some woman marvel- 
ously like Mrs. Wessington had hired the car- 
riage and the coolies with their old livery was 
lost. Again and again I went round this tread- 
mill of thought; and again and again gave up 
baffled and in despair. The voice was as inex- 
plicable as the apparition. I had originally some 
wild notion of confiding it all to Kitty; of beg- 
ging her to marry me at once; and in her arms 
defying the ghostly occupant of the 'rickshaw. 
"After all," I argued, "the presence of the 
'rickshaw is in itself enough to prove the exist- 
ence of a spectral illusion. One may see ghosts 
of men and women, but surely never of coolies 
and carriages. The whole thing is absurd. 
Fancy the ghost of a hillman! " 

Next morning I sent a penitent note to Kitty, 
imploring her to overlook my strange conduct of 
the previous afternoon. My Divinity was still 
very wroth, and a personal apology was neces- 
sary. 1 explained, with a fluency born of night- 
long pondering over a falsehood, that I had been 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 625 

attacked with a sudden palpitation of the heart — 
the result of indigestion. This eminently prac- 
tical solution had its effect; and Kitty and 1 rode 
out that afternoon with the shadow of my first 
lie dividing us. 

Nothing would please her save a canter round 
Jakko. With my nerves still unstrung from the 
previous night I feebly protested against the no- 
tion, suggesting Observatory Hill, Jutogh, the 
Boileaugunge road — anything rather than the 
Jakko round. Kitty was angry and a little hurt: 
so 1 yielded from fear of provoking further mis- 
understanding, and we set out together toward 
Chota Simla. We walked a greater part of the 
way, and, according to our custom, cantered 
from a mile or so below the Convent to the 
stretch of level road by the Sanjowlie Reservoir. 
The wretched horses appeared to fly, and my 
heart beat quicker and quicker as we neared the 
crest of the ascent. My mind had been full of 
Mrs. Wessington all the afternoon; and every 
inch of the Jakko road bore witness to our old- 
time walks and talks. The bowlders were full 
of it; the pines sang it aloud overhead; the 
rain-fed torrents giggled and chuckled unseen 
over the shameful story; and the wind in my 
ears chanted the iniquity aloud. 

As a fitting climax, in the middle of the level 
men call the Ladies' Mile the Horror was awaiting 

626 Indian Tales 

me. No other 'rickshaw was in sight — only the 
four black and white jhampanies, the yellow- 
paneled carriage, and the golden head of the 
woman within — all apparently just as I had left 
them eight months and one fortnight ago! For 
an instant 1 fancied that Kitty must see what 1 
saw — we were so marvelously sympathetic in 
all things. Her next words undeceived me — 
" Not a soul in sight! Come along, Jack, and I'll 
race you to the Reservoir buildings! " Her v/iry 
little Arab was off like a bird, my Waler follow- 
ing close behind, and in this order we dashed 
under the cliffs. Half a minute brought us 
within fifty yards of the 'rickshaw. I pulled my 
Waler and fell back a little. The 'rickshaw was 
directly in the middle of the road; and once more 
the Arab passed through it, my horse following. 
"Jack! Jack dear! Please forgive me," rang 
with a wail in my ears, and, after an interval: — 
" It's all a mistake, a hideous mistake! " 

I spurred my horse like a man possessed. 
When 1 turned my head at the Reservoir works, 
the black and v/hite liveries were still waiting — 
patiently waiting — under the grey hillside, and 
the wind brought me a mocking echo of the 
words I had just heard. Kitty bantered me a 
good deal on my silence throughout the remain- 
der of the ride. I had been talking up till then 
wildly and at random. To save my life I could 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 627 

not speak afterward naturally, and from San- 
jowlie to the Church wisely held my tongue. 

I was to dine with the Mannerings that night, 
and had barely time to canter home to dress. 
On the road to Elysium Hill 1 overheard two men 
talking together in the dusk. — "It's a curious 
thing," said one, "how completely all trace of it 
disappeared. You know my wife was insanely 
fond of the woman ('never could see anything in 
her myself), and wanted me to pick up her old 
'rickshaw and coolies if they were to be got for 
love or money. Morbid sort of fancy I call it; 
but I've got to do what the Memsahib tells me. 
Would you believe that the man she hired it 
from tells me that all four of the men — they were 
brothers — died of cholera on the way to Hard- 
war, poor devils; and the 'rickshaw has been 
broken up by the man himself, 'Told me he 
never used a dead Memsahib' s 'rickshaw. 'Spoiled 
his luck. Queer notion, v/asn't it ? Fancy poor 
little Mrs. Wessington spoiling any one's luck 
except her own! " 1 laughed aloud at this point; 
and my laugh jarred on me as I uttered it. So 
there were ghosts of 'rickshaws after all, and 
ghostly employments in the other world! How 
much did Mrs. Wessington give her men ? What 
were their hours } Where did they go ? 

And for visible answer to my last question I 
saw the infernal Thing blocking my path in the 

628 Indian Tales 

twilight. The dead travel fast, and by short cuts 
unknown to ordinary coolies. I laughed aloud a 
second time and checked my laughter suddenly, 
for I was afraid I was going mad. Mad to a 
certain extent I must have been, for I recollect 
that 1 reined in my horse at the head of the 'rick- 
shaw, and politely wished Mrs. Wessington 
"Good-evening." Her answer was one I knew 
only too well. I listened to the end; and replied 
that I had heard it all before, but should be de- 
lighted if she had anything further to say. Some 
malignant devil stronger than I must have en 
tered into me that evening, for I have a dim rec- 
ollection of talking the commonplaces of the 
day for five minutes to the Thing in front of me. 

" Mad as a hatter, poor devil — or drunk. Max, 
try and get him to come home." 

Surely ///j/ was not Mrs. Wessington's voice! 
The two men had overheard me speaking to the 
empty air, and had returned to look after me. 
They were very kind and considerate, and from 
their words evidently gathered that I was ex- 
tremely drunk. I thanked them confusedly and 
cantered away to my hotel, there changed, and 
arrived at the Mannerings' ten minutes late. I 
pleaded the darkness of the night as an excuse; 
was rebuked by Kitty for my unlover-like tardi- 
ness; and sat down. 

The conversation had already become general; 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 629 

and under cover of it, I was addressing some 
tender small talk to my sweetheart when I was 
aware that at the further end of the table a short 
red-whiskered man was describing, with much 
broidery, his encounter with a mad unknown 
that evening. 

A few sentences convinced me that he was re- 
peating the incident of half an hour ago. In the 
middle of the story he looked round for applause, 
as professional story-tellers do, caught my eye, 
and straightv/ay collapsed. There was a mo- 
ment's awkward silence, and the red-whiskered 
man muttered something to the effect that he 
had "forgotten the rest," thereby sacrificing a 
reputation as a good story-teller which he had 
built up for six seasons past. I blessed him 
from the bottom of my heart, and — went on 
with my fish. 

In the fulness of time that dinner came to an 
end; and with genuine regret I tore myself away 
from Kitty — as certain as I was of my own ex- 
istence that It would be waiting for me outside 
the door. The red-whiskered man, who had 
been introduced to me as Doctor Heatherlegh of 
Simla, volunteered to bear me company as far as 
our roads lay together. I accepted his offer with 

My instinct had not deceived me. It lay in 
readiness in the Mall, and, in what seemed devil- 

630 Indian Tales 

ish mockery of our ways, with a lighted head- 
lamp. The red-whiskered man went to the 
point at once, in a manner that showed he had 
been thinking over it all dinner time. 

" I say, Pansay, what the deuce was the mat- 
ter with you this evening on the Elysium road ?" 
The suddenness of the question wrenched an an- 
swer from me before I was aware. 

"That! " said I, pointing to It. 

" That may be either D. T. or Eyes for aught I 
know. Now you don't liquor. I saw as much 
at dinner, so it can t be D. T. There's nothing 
whatever where you're pointing, though you're 
sweating and trembling with fright like a scared 
pony. Therefore, I conclude that it's Eyes. And 
I ought to understand all about them. Come 
along home with me. I'm on the Blessington 
lower road." 

To my intense delight the 'rickshaw instead of 
waiting for us kept about twenty yards ahead — 
and this, too, whether we walked, trotted, or 
cantered. In the course of that long night ride I 
had told my companion almost as much as 1 have 
told you here. 

'•Well, you've spoiled one of the best tales 
I've ever laid tongue to," said he, "but I'll for- 
give you for the sake of what you've gone 
through. Now come home and do what I tell 
you; and when I've cured you, young man, let 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 631 

this be a lesson to you to steer clear of women 
and indigestible food till the day of your death." 

The 'rickshaw kept steady in front; and my 
red-whiskered friend seemed to derive great 
pleasure from my account of its exact where- 

"Eyes, Pansay — all Eyes, Brain, and Stomach. 
And the greatest of these three is Stomach. 
You've too much conceited Brain, too little 
Stomach, and thoroughly unhealthy Eyes. Get 
your Stomach straight and the rest follows. 
And all that's French for a liver pill. I'll take 
sole medical charge of you from this hour! for 
you're too interesting a phenomenon to be passed 

By this time we were deep in the shadow of 
the Blessington lower road and the 'rickshaw 
came to a dead stop under a pine-clad, over- 
hanging shale cliff. Instinctively I halted too, 
giving my reason. Heatherlegh rapped out an 

"Now, if you think I'm going to spend a cold 
night on the hillside for the sake of a Stomach- 
cum-^ra.\n-ctim-EyQ illusion . . . Lord, ha' 
mercy ! What's that ? " 

There was a muffled report, a blinding smother 
of dust just in front of us, a crack, the noise of 
rent boughs, and about ten yards of the cliff-side 
—pines, undergrowth, and all — slid down into 

632 Indian Tales 

the road below, completely blocking it up. The 
uprooted trees swayed and tottered for a mo- 
ment like drunken giants in the gloom, and then 
fell prone among their fellows with a thunderous 
crash. Our two horses stood motionless and 
sweating with fear. As soon as the rattle of 
falling earth and stone had subsided, my com- 
panion muttered: — "Man, if we'd gone forward 
we should have been ten feet deep in our graves 
by now. ' There are more things in heaven and 
earth.' . . . Come home, Pansay, and thank 
God. 1 want a peg badly." 

We retraced our way over the Church Ridge, 
and I arrived at Dr. Heatherlegh's house shortly 
after midnight. 

His attempts toward my cure corrimenced 
almost immediately, and for a week I never left 
his sight. Many a time in the course of that 
week did 1 bless the good-fortune which had 
thrown me in contact with Simla's best and 
kindest doctor. Day by day my spirits grew 
lighter and more equable. Day by day, too, I 
became more and more inclined to fall in with 
Heatherlegh's "spectral illusion" theory, im- 
plicating eyes, brain, and stomach. I wrote to 
Kitty, telling her that a slight sprain caused by a 
fall from my horse kept me indoors for a few 
days; and that I should be recovered before she 
had time to regret my absence. 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 6^3 

Heatherlegh's treatment was simple to a degree. 
It consisted of liver pills, cold-water baths, and 
strong exercise, taken in the dusk or at early 
dawn — for, as he sagely observed: — "A man 
with a sprained ankle doesn't walk a dozen miles 
a day, and your young woman might be wonder- 
ing if she saw you." 

At the end of the week, after much exami- 
nation of pupil and pulse, and strict injunctions 
as to diet and pedestrianism, Heatherlegh dis- 
missed me as brusquely as he had taken charge 
of me. Here is his parting benediction: — " Man, 
I certify to your mental cure, and that's as much 
as to say I've cured most of your bodily ailments. 
Now, get your traps out of this as soon as you 
can; and be off to make love to Miss Kitty." 

1 was endeavoring to express my thanks for 
his kindness. He cut me short. 

" Don't think ! did this because I like vou. I 
gather that you've behaved like a blackguard all 
through. But, all the same, you're a phenome- 
non, and as queer a phenomenon as you are a 
blackguard. No!" — checking me a second time 
— "not a rupee please. Go out and see if you 
can find the eyes-brain-and-stomach business 
again. I'll give you a lakh for each time you 
see it." 

Half an hour later I was in the Mannerings' 
drawing-room with Kitty — drunk with the in- 

634 Indian Tales 

toxication of present happiness and the fore- 
knowledge that I should never more be troubled 
with Its hideous presence. Strong in the sense 
of my new-found security, 1 proposed a ride 
at once; and, by preference, a canter round 

Never had I felt so well, so overladen with 
vitality and mere animal spirits, as 1 did on the 
afternoon of the 30th of April, Kitty was de- 
lighted at the change in my appearance, and 
complimented me on it in her delightfully frank 
and outspoken manner. We left the Manner- 
ings' house together, laughing and talking, and 
cantered along the Chota Simla road as of old. 

1 was in haste to reach the Sanjowlie Reservoir 
and there make my assurance doubly sure. The 
horses did their best, but seemed all too slow to 
my impatient mind. Kitty was astonished at my 
boisterousness. " Why, Jack! " she cried at last, 
"you are behaving like a child. What are you 
doing ?" 

We were just below the Convent, and from 
sheer wantonness I was making my Waler 
plunge and curvet across the road as I tickled it 
with the loop of my riding-whip. 

"Doing?" I answered; "nothing, dear. 
That's just it. If you'd been doing nothing 
for a week except lie up, you'd be as riotous 
as I. 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 635 

" ♦ Singing and murmuring in your feastful mirth, 
Joying to feel yourself alive ; 
Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible Earth, 
Lord of the senses five.' " 

My quotation was hardly out of my lips before 
we had rounded the corner above the Convent; 
and a few yards further on could see across to 
Sanjowlie. In the centre of the level road stood 
the black and white liveries, the yellow-paneled 
'rickshaw, and Mrs. Keith-Wessington. I pulled 
up, looked, rubbed my eyes, and, I believe, must 
have said something. The next thing I knew 
was that I was lying face downward on the 
road, with Kitty kneeling above me in tears. 

"Has it gone, child!" 1 gasped. Kitty only 
wept more bitterly. 

"Has what gone, Jack dear? what does it all 
mean ? There must be a mistake somewhere, 
Jack. A hideous mistake." Her last words 
brought me to my feet — mad — raving for the 
time being. 

"Yes, there is a mistake somewhere," I re- 
peated, "a hideous mistake. Come and look at 

I have an indistinct idea that I dragged Kitty 
by the wrist along the road up to where It stood, 
and implored her for pity's sake to speak to It; 
to tell It that we were betrothed; that neither 
Death nor Hell could break the tie between us: 

536 Indian Tales 

and Kitty only knows how much more to the 
same effect. Now and again I appealed passion- 
ately to the Terror in the 'rickshaw to bear wit- 
ness to all I had said, and to release me from a 
torture that was killing me. As 1 talked 1 sup- 
pose I must have told Kitty of my old relations 
with Mrs. Wessington, for I saw her listen in- 
tently with white face and blazing eyes. 

"Thank you, Mr. Pansay," she said, "that's 
quite enough. Syce ghora /do." 

The syces, impassive as Orientals always are, 
had come up with the recaptured horses; and as 
Kitty sprang into her saddle I caught hold of the 
bridle, entreating her to hear me out and for- 
give. My answer was the cut of her riding- 
whip across my face from mouth to eye, and a 
word or two of farewell that even now I cannot 
write down. So 1 judged, and judged rightly, 
that Kitty knew all; and I staggered back to the 
side of the 'rickshaw. My face was cut and 
bleeding, and the blow of the riding-whip had 
raised a livid blue wheal on it. 1 had no self- 
respect. Just then, Heatherlegh, who must have 
been following Kitty and me at a distance, can- 
tered up. 

" Doctor," I said, pointing to my face, "here's 
Miss Mannering's signature to my order of dis- 
missal and . . . I'll thank you for that lakh 
as soon as convenient." 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 637 

Heatherlegh's face, even in my abject misery, 
moved me to laughter. 

''I'll stake my professional reputation" — he 
began. " Don't be a fool," I whispered. "I've 
lost my life's happiness and you'd better take me 

As 1 spoke the 'rickshaw was gone. Then I 
lost all knowledge of what was passing. The 
crest of Jakko seemed to heave and roll like the 
crest of a cloud and fall in upon me. 

Seven days later (on the 7th of May, that is to 
say) 1 was aware that 1 was lying in Heather- 
legh's room as weak as a little child. Heather- 
legh was watching me intently from behind the 
papers on his writing-table. His first words 
were not encouraging; but I was too far spent 
to be much moved by them. 

" Here's Miss Kitty has sent back your letters. 
You corresponded a good deal, you young peo- 
ple. Here's a packet that looks like a ring, and 
a cheerful sort of a note from Mannering Papa, 
which I've taken the liberty of reading and burn- 
ing. The old gentleman's not pleased with you." 

"And Kitty?" I asked, dully. 

"Rather more drawn than her father from 
what she says. By the same token you must 
have been letting out any number of queer remi- 
niscences just before 1 met you. 'Says that a 
man who would have behaved to a woman as 

638 Indian Tales 

you did to Mrs. Wessington ought to kill him- 
self out of sheer pity for his kind. She's a hot- 
headed little virago, your mash. 'Will have it 
too that you were suffering from D. T. when that 
row on the Jakko road turned up. 'Says she'll 
die before she ever speaks to you again." 

I groaned and turned over on the other side. 

"Now you've got your choice, my friend. 
This engagement has to be broken off; and the 
Mannerings don't want to be too hard on you. 
Was it broken through D. T. or epileptic fits? 
Sorry 1 can't offer you a better exchange unless 
you'd prefer hereditary insanity. Say the word 
and I'll tell 'em it's fits. All Simla knows about 
that scene on the Ladies' Mile. Come! I'll give 
you five minutes to think over it." 

During those five minutes I believe that I ex- 
plored thoroughly the lowest circles of the In- 
ferno which it is permitted man to tread on earth. 
And at the same time I myself was watching 
myself faltering through the dark labyrinths of 
doubt, misery, and utter despair. I wondered, as 
Heatherlegh in his chair might have wondered, 
which dreadful alternative I should adopt. Pres- 
ently I heard myself answering in a voice that I 
hardly recognized, — 

"They're confoundedly particular about mo- 
rality in these parts. Give 'em fits, Heatherlegh, 
and my love. Now let me sleep a bit longer." 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 639 

Then my two selves joined, and it was only I 
(half crazed, devil-driven I) that tossed in my 
bed, tracing step by step the history of the past 

"But I am in Simla," I kept repeating to my- 
self. "1, Jack Pansay, am in Simla, and there 
are no ghosts here. It's unreasonable of that 
woman to pretend there are. Why couldn't 
Agnes have left me alone .? 1 never did her any 
harm. It might just as well have been me as 
Agnes. Only I'd never have come back on pur- 
pose to kill her. Why can't I be left alone — left 
alone and happy } " 

It was high noon when I first awoke: and the 
sun was low in the sky before I slept — slept as 
the tortured criminal sleeps on his rack, too worn 
to feel further pain. 

Next day I could not leave my bed. Heather- 
legh told me in the morning that he had received 
an answer from Mr. Mannering, and that, thanks 
to his (Heatherlegh's) friendly offices, the story 
of my affliction had traveled through the length 
and breadth of Simla, where I was on all sides 
much pitied. 

"And that's rather more than you deserve," he 
concluded, pleasantly, "though the Lord knows 
you've been going through a pretty severe mill. 
Never mind; we'll cure you yet, you perverse 

640 Indian Tales 

I declined firmly to be cured. ',' You've been 
much too good to me already, old man," said I; 
"but 1 don't think 1 need trouble you further." 

In my heart I knew that nothing Heatherlegh 
could do would lighten the burden that had been 
laid upon me. 

With that knowledge came also a sense of 
hopeless, impotent rebellion against the unrea- 
sonableness of it all. There were scores of men 
no better than I whose punishments had at least 
been reserved for another world; and 1 felt that 
it was bitterly, cruelly unfair that 1 alone should 
have been singled out for so hideous a fate. This 
mood would in time give place to another where 
it seemed that the 'rickshaw and 1 were the only 
realities in a world of shadows; that Kitty was a 
ghost; that Mannering, Heatherlegh, and all the 
other men and women I knew were all ghosts; 
and the great, grey hills themselves but vain 
shadows devised to torture me. From mood to 
mood I tossed backward and forward for seven 
weary days; my body growing daily stronger 
and stronger, until the bedroom looking-glass 
told me that I had returned to everyday life, and 
was as other men once more. Curiously enough 
my face showed no signs of the struggle I had 
gone through. It was pale indeed, but as ex- 
pressionless and commonplace as ever. I had 
expected some permanent alteration — visible evi- 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 641 

dence of the disease that was eating me away. 
I found nothing. 

On the 15th of May I left Heatherlegh's house 
at eleven o'clock in the morning; and the instinct 
of the bachelor drove me to the Club. There I 
found that every man knew my story as told by 
Heatherlegh, and was, in clumsy fashion, abnor- 
mally kind and attentive. Nevertheless I recog- 
nized that for the rest of my natural life I should 
be among but not of my fellows; and I envied 
very bitterly indeed the laughing coolies on the 
Mall below. I lunched at the Club, and at foui 
o'clock wandered aim.lessly down the Mall in the 
vague hope of meeting Kitty. Close to the 
Band-stand the black and white liveries joined 
me; and 1 heard Mrs, Wessington's old appeal at 
my side. I had been expecting this ever since I 
came out; and was only surprised at her delay. 
The phantom 'rickshaw and 1 went side by side 
along the Chota Simla road in silence. Close to 
the bazar, Kitty and a man on horseback over- 
took and passed us. For any sign she gave I 
might have been a dog in the road. She did not 
even pay me the compliment of quickening her 
pace; though the rainy afternoon had served for 
an excuse. 

So Kitty and her companion, and I and my 
ghostly Light-o'-Love, crept round Jakko in 
couples. The road was streaming with water: 

642 Indian Tales 

the pines dripped like roof-pipes on the rocks be- 
low, and the air was full of fine, driving rain. 
Two or three times I found myself saying to my- 
self almost aloud: " I'm Jack Pansay on leave at 
Simla — at Simla! Everyday, ordinary Simla. 1 
mustn't forget that — I mustn't forget that." Then 
1 would try to recollect some of the gossip I had 
heard at the Club: the prices of So-and-So's 
horses — anything, in fact, that related to the 
workaday Anglo-Indian world I knew so well. 
I even repeated the multiplication-table rapidly to 
myself, to make quite sure that I was not taking 
leave of my senses. It gave me much comfort; 
and must have prevented my hearing Mrs. Wes- 
sington for a time. 

Once more 1 wearily climbed the Convent 
slope and entered the level road. Here Kitty 
and the man started off at a canter, and I was 
left alone with Mrs. Wessington. "Agnes," 
said I, "will you put back your hood and tell 
me what it all means.?" The hood dropped 
noiselessly, and I was face to face with my 
dead and buried mistress. She was wearing 
the dress in which I had last seen her alive; 
carried the same tiny handkerchief in her right 
hand; and the same cardcase in her left. (A 
woman eight months dead with a cardcase!) I 
had to pin myself down to the multiplication- 
table, and to set both hands on the stone parapet 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 643 

of the road, to assure myself that that at leas^ 
was real. 

"Agnes," I repeated, "for pity's sake tell me 
what it all means." Mrs. Wessington leaned 
forward, with that odd, quick turn of the head I 
used to know so well, and spoke. 

If my story had not already so madly over- 
leaped the bounds of all human belief I should 
apologize to you now. As I know that no one 
—no, not even Kitty, for whom it is written as 
some sort of justification of my conduct — will 
believe me, I will go on. Mrs. Wessington 
spoke and I walked with her from the Sanjowlie 
road to the turning below the Commander-in- 
Chief's house as I might walk by the side of any 
living woman's 'rickshaw, deep in conversation. 
The second and most tormenting of my moods 
of sickness had suddenly laid hold upon me, and 
like the Prince in Tennyson's poem, "I seemed 
to move amid a world of ghosts." There had 
been a garden-party at the Commander-in- 
Chief's, and we two joined the crowd of home- 
ward-bound folk. As 1 saw them then it seemed 
that they were the shadows — impalpable, fantas- 
tic shadows — that divided for Mrs, Wessington's 
'rickshaw to pass through. What we said dur- 
ing the course of that weird interview I cannot 
■ — indeed, 1 dare not — tell. Heatherlegh's com- 
ment would have been a short laugh and a re- 

644 Indian Tales 

mark that I had been " mashing a brain-eye-and- 
stomach chimera." It was a ghastly and yet in 
some indefinable way a marvelously dear experi- 
ence. Could it be possible, I wondered, that I 
was in this life to woo a second time the woman 
I had killed by my own neglect and cruelty } 

I met Kitty on the homeward road — a shadow 
among shadows. 

If I were to describe all the incidents of the 
next fortnight in their order, my story would 
never come to an end; and your patience would 
be exhausted. Morning after morning and even- 
ing after evening the ghostly 'rickshaw and / 
used to wander through Simla together. Wher- 
ever I went there the four black and white liver- 
ies followed me and bore me company to and 
from my hotel. At the Theatre I found them 
amid the crowd of yelWng jJianipaiiies ; outside 
the Club veranda, after a long evening of whist; 
at the Birthday Ball, waiting patiently for my re- 
appearance; and in broad daylight when I went 
calling. Save that it cast no shadow, the 'rick- 
shaw was in every respect as real to look upon as 
one of wood and iron. More than once, indeed, 
I have had to check myself from warning some 
hard-riding friend against cantering over it. 
More than once I have walked down the Mall 
ieep in conversation with Mrs. Wessington to 
he unspeakable amazement of the passers-bv. 

The Phantom 'Rickshaw 645 

Before I had been out and about a week I 
learned that the "fit" theory had been discarded 
in favor of insanity. However, I made no change 
in my mode of life. 1 called, rode, and dined out 
as freely as ever. 1 had a passion for the society 
of my kind which 1 had never felt before; I 
hungered to be among the realities of life; and 
at the same time I felt vaguely unhappy when I 
had been separated too long from my ghostly 
companion. It would be almost impossible to 
describe my varying moods from the 15th of 
May up to to-day. 

The presence of the 'rickshaw filled me by 
turns with horror, blind fear, a dim sort of pleas- 
ure, and utter despair. I dared not leave Simla; 
and I knew that my stay there was killing me. 
I knew, moreover, that it was my destiny to die 
slowly and a little every day. My only anxiety 
was to get the penance over as quietly as might 
be. Alternately I hungered for a sight of Kitty 
and watched her outrageous flirtations with my 
successor — to speak more accurately, my succes- 
sors — with amused interest. She was as much 
out of my life as 1 was out of hers. By day I 
wandered with Mrs. Wessington almost content. 
By night 1 implored Heaven to let me return to 
the world as 1 used to know it. Above all these 
varying moods lay the sensation of dull, numbing 
wonder that the Seen and the Unseen should 

546 Indian Tale s 

mingle so strangely on this earth to hound one 
poor soul to its grave. 

August 27. — Heatherlegh has been indefatiga- 
ble in his attendance on me; and only yesterday 
told me that 1 ought to send in an application for 
sick leave. An application to escape the com- 
pany of a phantom ! A request that the Govern- 
ment would graciously permit me to get rid of 
five ghosts and an airy 'rickshaw by going to 
England! Heatherlegh's proposition moved me 
to almost hysterical laughter. 1 told him that I 
should await the end quietly at Simla; and I am 
sure that the end is not far off. Believe me that 
I dread its advent more than any word can say; 
and J torture myself nightly with a thousand 
speculations as to the manner of my death. 

Shall I die in my bed decently and as an Eng- 
lish gentleman should die; or, in one last walk 
on the Mall, will my soul be wrenched from me 
to take its place forever and ever by the side of 
that ghastly phantasm } Shall I return to my old 
lost allegiance in the next world, or shall 1 meet 
Agnes loathing her and bound to her side through 
all eternity ? Shall we two hover over the scene 
of our lives till the end of Time ? As the day of 
my death draws nearer, the intense horror that 
all living flesh feels toward escaped spirits from 

Tke Rhantom 'Rickshaw 647 

beyond the grave grows more and more power- 
ful. It is an awful thing to go down quick 
among the dead with scarcely one-half of your 
life completed. It is a thousand times more 
awful to wait as I do in your midst, for I know 
not what unimaginable terror. Pity me, at least 
on the score of my "delusion," for 1 know you 
will never believe what I have written here. Yet 
as surely as ever a man was done to death by the 
Powers of Darkness I am that man. 

In justice, too, pity her. For as surely as ever 
woman was killed by rnan, I killed Mrs. Wes- 
sington. And the last portion of my punishment 
IS even now upon me. 


If your mirror be broken, look into still water ; but have a 
care that you do not fall in. — Hindu Proverb. 

NEXT to a requited attachment, one of the 
most convenient things that a young man 
can carry about with him at the beginning of his 
career, is an unrequited attachment. It makes 
him feel important and business-Uke, and hlase, 
and cynical; and whenever he has a touch of Hver, 
or suffers from want of exercise, ne can mourn 
over his lost love, and be very happy in a tender, 
twilight fashion. 

Hannasyde's affair of the heart had been a god- 
send to him. It was four years old, and the girl 
had long since given up thinking of it. She had 
married and had many cares of her own. In the 
beginning, she had told Hannasyde that, "while 
she could never be anything more than a sister 
to him, she would always take the deepest inter- 
est in his welfare." This startlingly new and 
original remark gave Hannasyde something to 
think over for two years; and his own vanity 
filled in the other twenty-four months. Hanna- 
syde was quite different from Phil Garron, but, 

On the Strength of a Likeness 64Q 

none the less, had several points in common with 
that far too lucky man. 

He kept his unrequited attachment by him as 
men keep a well-smoked pipe — for comfort's 
sake, and because it had grown dear in the 
using. It brought him happily through one 
Simla season. Hannasyde was not lovely. 
There was a crudity in his manners, and a 
roughness in the way in which he helped a lady 
on to her horse, that did not attract the other sex 
to him. Even if he had cast about for their 
favor, which he did not. He kept his wounded 
heart all to himself for a while. 

Then trouble came to him. All who go to 
Simla know the slope from the Telegraph to the 
Public Works Office. Hannasyde was loafmg up 
the hill, one September morning between calling 
hours, when a 'rickshaw came down in a hurry, 
and in the 'rickshaw sat the living, breathing 
image of the girl who had made him so happily 
unhappy. Hannasyde leaned against the railings 
and gasped. He wanted to run downhill after 
the 'rickshaw, but that was impossible; so he 
went forward with most of his blood in his tem- 
ples. It was impossible, for many reasons, that 
the woman in the 'rickshaw could be the girl he 
had known. She was, he discovered later, tl.t 
wife of a man from Dindigul, or Coimbatore, or 
some out-of-the-way place, and she had come 

650 Indian Tales 

up to Simla early in the season for the good of 
her health. She was going back to Dindigul, or 
wherever it was, at the end of the season; and in 
all likelihood would never return to Simla again; 
her proper Hill-station being Ootacamund. That 
night Hannasyde, raw and savage from the rak- 
ing up of all old feelings, took counsel with him- 
self for one measured hour. What he decided 
upon was this; and you must decide for yourself 
how much genuine affection for the old Love, 
and how much a very natural inclination to go 
abroad and enjoy himself, affected the decision. 
Mrs. Landys-Haggert would never in all human 
likelihood cross his path again. So whatever he 
did didn't much matter. She was marvelously 
like the girl who "took a deep interest" and the 
rest of the formula. All things considered, it 
would be pleasant to make the acquaintance of 
Mrs. Landys-Haggert, and for a little time — only 
a very little time — to make believe that he was 
with Alice Chisane again. Every one is more or 
less mad on one point. Hannasyde's particular 
monomania was his old love, Alice Chisane. 

He made it his business to get introduced to 
Mrs. Haggert, and the introduction prospered. 
He also made it his business to see as much as he 
could of that lady. When a man is in earnest as 
to interviews, the facilities which Simla offers are 
startling. There are garden-parties, and tennis- 

On the Strength of a Likeness 651 

parties, and picnics, and luncheons at Annandale, 
and rifle-matches, and dinners and balls; besides 
rides and walks, which are matters of private ar- 
rangement. Hannasyde had started with the in- 
tention of seeing a likeness, and he ended by 
doing much more. He wanted to be deceived, 
he meant to be deceived, and he deceived himself 
very thoroughly. Not only were the face and 
figure the face and figure of Alice Chisane, but 
the voice and lower tones were exactly the same, 
and so were the turns of speech; and the little 
mannerisms, that every woman has, of gait and 
gesticulation, were absolutely and identically the 
same. The turn of the head was the same; the 
tired look in the eyes at the end of a long walk 
was the same; the stoop-and-wrench over the 
saddle to hold in a pulling horse was the same; 
and once, most marvelous of all, Mrs. Landys- 
Haggert singing to herself in the next room, 
while Hannasyde was waiting to take her for a 
ride, hummed, note for note, with a throaty 
quiver of the voice in the second line, " Poor 
Wandering One!" exactly as Alice Chisane had 
hummed it for Hannasyde in the dusk of an 
English drawing-room. In the actual woman 
herself — in the soul of her — there was not the 
least likeness; she and Alice Chisane being cast 
in different moulds. But all that Hannasyde 
wanted to know and see and think about, was 

652 Indian Tales 

this maddening and perplexing likeness of face 
and voice and manner. He was bent on making 
a fool of himself that way; and he was in no 
sort disappointed. 

Open and obvious devotion from any sort of 
man is always pleasant to any sort of woman; 
but Mrs. Landys-Haggert, being a woman of the 
world, could make nothing of Hannasyde"s ad- 

He would take any amount of trouble — he was 
a selfish man habitually — to meet and forestall, if 
possible, her wishes. Anything she told him to 
do was law; and he was, there could be nc 
doubting it, fond of her company so long as sh*.' 
talked to him, and kept on talking about triviali- 
ties. But when she launched into expression of 
her personal views and her wrongs, those small 
social differences that make the spice of Simb 
life, Hannasyde was neither pleased nor inter • 
ested. He didn't want to know anything about 
Mrs. Landys-Haggert, or her experiences in thf' 
past — she had traveled nearly all over the world, 
and could talk cleverly — he wanted the likeness' 
of Alice Chisane before his eyes and her voice in 
his ears. Anything outside that, reminding him 
of another personality, jarred, and he showed 
that it did. 

Under the new Post Office, one evening, Mrs. 
Landys-Haggert turned on him, and spoke her 

On the Strength of a Likeness 653 

mind shortly and without warning. "Mr. 
Hannasyde," said she, " will you be good enough 
to explain why you have appointed yourself my 
special ca-valier servente? 1 don't understand it. 
But 1 am perfectly certain, somehow or other, 
that you don't care the least little bit in the world 
for me." This seems to support, by the way, the 
theory that no man can act or tell lies to a woman 
without being found out. Hannasyde was taken 
off his guard. His defence never was a strong 
one, because he was always thinking of himself, 
and he blurted out, before he knew what he was 
saying, this inexpedient answer, " No more I do." 

The queerness of the situation and the reply, 
made Mrs. Landys-Haggert laugh. Then it all 
came out; and at the end of Hannasyde's lucid 
explanation Mrs. Haggert said, with the least lit- 
tle touch of scorn in her voice, "So I'm to act as 
the lay-figure for you to hang the rags of your 
tattered affections on, am I .^" 

Hannasyde didn't see what answer was re- 
quired, and he devoted himself generally and 
vaguely to the praise of Alice Chisane, which 
was unsatisfactory. Now it is to be thoroughly 
made clear that Mrs. Haggert had not the shadow 
of a ghost of an interest in Hannasyde. Only 
. . . only no woman likes being made love 
through instead of to — specially on behalf of a 
musty divinity of four years' standing. 

654 Indian Tales 

Hannasyde did not see that he had made any 
very particular exhibition of himself. He was 
glad to find a sympathetic soul in the arid wastes 
of Simla. 

When the season ended, Hannasyde went 
down to his own place and Mrs. Haggert to hers. 
" It was like making love to a ghost," said Han- 
nasyde to himself, "and it doesn't matter; and 
now I'll get to my work." But he found himself 
thinking steadily of the Haggert-Chisane ghost; 
and he could not be certain whether it was Hag- 
gert or Chisane that made up the greater part of 
the pretty phantom. 

He got understanding a month later. 

A peculiar point of this peculiar country is the 
way in which a heartless Government transfers 
men from one end of the Empire to the other. 
You can never be sure of getting rid of a friend 
or an enemy till he or she dies. There was a 
case once — but that's another story. 

Haggert's Department ordered him up from 
Dindigul to the Frontier at two days' notice, and 
he went through, losing money at every step, 
from Dindigul to his station. He dropped Mrs. 
Haggert at Lucknow, to stay with some friends 
there, to take part in a big ball at the Chutter 
Munzil, and to come on when he had made the 

On the Strength of a Likeness 655 

new home a little comfortable. Lucknow was 
Hannasyde's station, and Mrs. Haggert stayed a 
week there. Hannasyde went to meet her. As 
the train came in, he discovered what he had been 
thinking of for the past month. The unwisdom 
of his conduct also struck him. The Lucknow 
week, with two dances, and an unlimited quan- 
tity of rides together, clinched matters; and 
Hannasyde found himself pacing this circle of 
thought: — He adored Alice Chisane, at least he 
had adored her. And he admired Mrs. Landys- 
Haggert because she was like Alice Chisane. 
But Mrs. Landys-Haggert was not in the least 
like Alice Chisane, being a thousand times more 
adorable. No-w Alice Chisane was "the bride of 
another," and so was Mrs. Landys-Haggert, and 
a good and honest wife too. Therefore he, Han- 
nasyde, was . . . here he called himself 
several hard names, and wished that he had been 
wise in the beginning. 

Whether Mrs. Landys-Haggert saw what was 
going on in his mind, she alone knows. He 
seemed to take an unqualified interest in every- 
thing connected with herself, as distinguished 
from the Alice-Chisane likeness, and he said one 
or two things which, if Alice Chisane had been 
still betrothed to him, could scarcely have been 
excused, even on the grounds of the likeness. 
But Mrs. Haggert turned the remarks aside, and 


Indian Tales 

spent a long time in making Hannasyde see what 
a comfort and a pleasure she had been to him be- 
cause of her strange resemblance to his old love. 
Hannasyde groaned in his saddle and said, "Yes, 
indeed," and busied himself with preparations 
for her departure to the Frontier, feeling very 
small and miserable. 

The last day of her stay at Lucknow came, and 
Hannasyde saw her off at the Railway Station. 
She was very grateful for his kindness and the 
trouble he had taken, and smiled pleasantly and 
sympathetically as one who knew the Alice- 
Chisane reason of that kindness. And Hannasyde 
abused the coolies with the luggage, and hustled 
the people on the platform, and prayed that the 
roof might fall in and slay him. 

As the train went out slowly, Mrs. Landys- 
Haggert leaned out of the window to say good- 
bye — "On second thoughts au revoir, Mr. Han- 
nasyde. I go Home in the Spring, and perhaps I 
may meet you in Town." 

Hannasyde shook hands, and said very ear- 
nestly and adoringly — " I hope to Heaven I shall 
never see your face again! " 

And Mrs. Haggert understood. 


And he told a tale. — Chronicles of Gautama Buddha. 

FAR from the haunts of Company Officers 
who insist upon kit-inspections, far from 
keen-nosed Sergeants who sniff the pipe stuffed 
into the bedding-roll, two miles from the Lumult 
of the barracks, lies the Trap. It is an old dry 
well, shadowed by a twisted pipal tree and 
fenced with high grass. Here, in the years gone 
by, did Private Ortheris establish his depot and 
menagerie for such possessions, dead and living, 
as could not safely be introduced to the barrack- 
room. Here were gathered Houdin pullets, and 
fox-terriers of undoubted pedigree and more 
than doubtful ownership, for Ortheris was an in- 
veterate poacher and preeminent among a regi- 
ment of neat-handed dog-stealers. 

Never again will the long lazy evenings return 
wherein Ortheris, whistling softly, moved sur- 
geon-wise among the captives of his craft at the 
bottom of the well ; when Learoyd sat in the 
niche, giving sage counsel on the management of 
"tykes," and Mulvaney, from the crook of the 
overhanging /)/^a/, waved his enormous boots in 

658 Indian Tales 

benediction above our heads, flighting us with 
iales of Love and War, and strange experiences 
of cities and men. 

Ortheris — landed at last in the "little stuff 
bird-shop " for which your soul longed; Learoyd 
— back again in the smoky, stone-ribbed North, 
amid the clang of the Bradford looms; Mul- 
vaney — grizzled, tender, and very wise Ulysses, 
sweltering on the earthwork of a Central India 
line— judge if 1 have forgotten old days in the 

Orth'ris, as alius thinks he knaws more than 
other foaks, said she wasn't a real laady, but 
noL:3ut a Hewrasian. 1 don't gainsay as her cul- 
ler was a bit doosky like. But she was a laady. 
Why, she rode iv a carriage, an' good 'osses, too, 
an' her 'air was that oiled as you could see your 
faice in it, an' she wore dimond rings an' a goold 
chain, an' silk an' satin dresses as mun 'a' cost a 
deal, for it isn't a cheap shop as keeps enough o' 
one pattern to fit a figure like hers. Her name 
was Mrs. DeSussa, an' t' waay I coom to be ac- 
quainted wi' her was along of our Colonel's 
Laady's dog Rip. 

I've seen a vast o' dogs, but Rip was t' pret- 
tiest picter of a cliver fox-tarrier 'at iver I set eyes 
on. He could do owt you like but speeak, an' t' 
Colonel's Laady set more store by him than if he 

Private Learoyd's Story 659 

hed been a Christian. She hed bairns of her 
awn, but they was i' England, and Rip seemed 
*o get all t' coodlin' and pettin' as belonged to a 
bairn by good right. 

But Rip were a bit on a rover, an' hed a habit 
o' breakin' out o' barricks like, and trottin' round 
t' plaice as if he were t' Cantonment Magistrate 
coom round inspectin'. The Colonel leathers him 
once or twice, but Rip didn't care an' kept on 
gooin' his rounds, wi' his taail a-waggin' as if 
he were flag-signallin' to t' world at large 'at he 
was "gettin' on nicely, thank yo', and how's 
yo'sen.?" An' then t' Colonel, as was noa sort 
of a hand wi' a dog, tees him oop. A real clip- 
per of a dog, an' it's noa wonder yon laady, Mrs. 
D^eSussa, should tek a fancy tiv him. Theer's 
one o' t' Ten Commandments says yo maun't 
cuvvet your neebor's ox nor his jackass, but it 
doesn't say nowt about his tarrier dogs, an' hap- 
pen thot's t' reason why Mrs. DeSussa cuvveted 
Rip, tho' she went to church reg'lar along wi' 
her husband who was so mich darker 'at if he 
hedn't such a good coaat tiv his back yo' might 
ha' called him a black man and nut tell a lee 
nawther. They said he addled his brass i' jute, 
an' he'd a rare lot on it. 

Well, you seen, when they teed Rip up, t' poor 
awd lad didn't enjoy very good 'elth. So t' Colo- 
nel's Laady sends for me as 'ad a naame for 

66o fndian Tales 

bein' knowledgeable about a aog, an' axes what's 
ailin' wi' him. 

"Why," says I, "he's getten t' mopes, an' 
what he wants is his hbbaty an' coompany like 
t' rest on us; wal happen a rat o^ two 'ud liven 
him oop. It's low, mum," says 1, "is rats, but 
it's t' nature of a dog; an' soa's cuttin' round an' 
meetin' another dog or two an' passin' t' time o' 
day, an' hevvin' a bit of a turn-up wi' him like a 

So she says her dog maunt niver fight an' noa 
Christians iver fought. 

"Then what's a soldier for?" says 1; an' I ex- 
plains to her t' contrairy qualities of a dog, 'at, 
when yo' coom to think on't, is one o' t' curusest 
things as is. For they larn to behave theirsens 
like gentlemen born, fit for t' fost o' coompany — 
they tell me t' Widdy herself is fond of a good 
dog and knaws one when she sees it as well as 
onny body: then on t' other hand a-tewin' round 
after cats an' gettin' mixed oop i' all manners o' 
blackguardly street-rows, an' killin' rats, an' 
fightin' like divils. 

V Colonel's Laady says: — "Well, Learoyd, I 
doan't agree wi' you, but you're right in a way o' 
speeakin', an' I should like yo' to tek Rip out a- 
walkin' wi' you sometimes; but yo' maun't let 
him fight, nor chase cats, nor do nowt 'orrid;" 
an' them was her very wods. 

Private Learoyd's Story 661 

Soa Rip an' me gooes out a-walkin' o' evenin's, 
he bein' a dog as did credit tiv a man, an' I 
catches a lot 0' rats an' we hed a bit of a match 
on in an awd dry swimmin'-bath at back o' t' 
cantonments, an' it was none so long afore he 
was as bright as a button again. He hed a way 
o' flyin' at them big yaller pariah dogs as if he 
was a harrow offan a bow, an' though his weight 
were nowt, he tuk 'em so suddint-hke they rolled 
over like skittles in a halley, an' when they coot 
he stretched after 'em as if he were rabbit-run- 
nin'. Saame with cats when he cud get t' cat 
agaate o' runnin'. 

One evenin', him an' me was trespassin' ovver 
a compound wall after one of them mongooses 
'at he'd started, an' we was busy grubbin' round 
a prickle-bush, an' when we looks up there was 
Mrs. DeSussa wi' a parasel ovver her shoulder, a- 
watchin' us. " Oh my! " she sings out; "there's 
that lovelee dog! Would he let me stroke him, 
Mister Soldier.?" 

"Ay, he would, mum," «ez 1, "for he's fond 
o' laady's coompany. Coom here, Rip, an'speeak 
to this kind laady." An' Rip, seein' 'at t' mon- 
goose hed getten clean awaay, cooms up like t' 
gentleman he was, nivver a hauporth shy or 

"Oh, you beautiful — you prettee dog!" she 
says, clippin' an' chantin' her speech in i way 

662 Indian Tales 

them sooart has o' their awn; "I would like a 
dog like you. You are so verree lovelee — so 
awfullee prettee," an' all thot sort o' talk, 'at a 
dog o' sense mebbe thinks nowt on, tho' he 
bides it by reason o' his breedin'. 

An' thert I meks him joomp ovver my swag^ 
ger-cane, an' shek hands, an' beg, an' lie dead, 
an" a lot o' them tricks as laadies teeaches dogs, 
though I doan't haud with it mysen, for it's 
makin' a fool o' a good dog to do such like. 

An' at lung length it cooms out 'at she'd been 
thrawin' sheep's eyes, as t' sayin' is, at Rip for 
many a day. Yo' see, her childer was grown 
up, an' she'd nowt mich to do, an' were alius 
fond of a dog. Soa she axes me if I'd tek some- 
thin' to dhrink. An' we goes into t' drawn-room 
wheer her 'usband was a-settin'. They meks a 
gurt fuss ovver t' dog an' I has a bottle o' aale, 
an' he gave me a handful o" cigars. 

Soa I coomed away, but t' awd lass sings out 
— "Oh, Mister Soldier, please coom again and 
bring that prettee dog." 

I didn't let on to t" Colonel's Laady about Mrs. 
DeSussa, and Rip, he says nowt nawther; an' I 
gooes again, an' ivry time there was a good 
dhrink an' a handful o' good smooaks. An' I 
telled t' awd lass a heeap more about Rip than 
I'd ever heeared; how he tuk t' fost prize at 
Lunnon dog-show and cost thotty-three pounds 

Private Learoyd's Story 663 

fower shillin' from t' man as bred him; 'at his 
own brother was t' propputty o' t' Prince o' 
Wailes, an' 'at he had a pedigree as long as a 
Dook's. An' she lapped it all oop an' were niver 
tired o' admirin' him. But when t' awd lass took 
to givin' me money an' 1 seed 'at she were get- 
tin' fair fond about c' dog, 1 began to suspicion 
summat. Onny body may give a soldier t' price 
of a pint in a friendly way an' theer's no 'arm 
done, but when it cooms to five rupees slipt into 
your hand, sly like, why, it's what t' 'lection- 
eerin' fellows calls bribery an' corruption. Spe- 
cially when Mrs. DeSussa threwed hints how t' 
cold weather would soon be ovver an' she was 
goin' to Munsooree Pahr.r an' we was goin' to 
Rawalpindi, an' she would niver see Rip any 
more onless somebody she knowed on would be 
kind tiv her. 

Soa I tells Mulvaney an' Ortheris all t' taale 
thro', beginnin' to end. 

'*'Tis larceny that wicked ould laady manes," 
says t' Irishman, " 'tis felony she is sejuicin' ye 
into, my frind Learoyd, but I'll purtect your in- 
nocince. I'll save ye from the wicked wiles av 
that wealthy ould woman, an' I'll go wid ye this 
evenin' and spake to her the wurrds av truth an' 
honesty. But Jock," says he, waggin' his heead, 
"'twas not like ye to kape all that good dhrink 
an' thim fine cigars to yerself, while Orth'ris here 

664 Indian Tales 

an' me have been prowlin' round wid throats as 
dry as lime-kilns, and nothin' to smoke but Can- 
teen plug. 'Twas a dhirty thrick to play on a 
comrade, for why should you, Learoyd, be bal- 
ancin' yourself on the butt av a satin thair, as if 
Terence Mulvaney was not the aquil av anybody 
who thrades in jute! " 

" Let alone me," sticks in Orth'ris, " but that's 
like life. Them wot's really fitted to decorate 
society get no show while a blunderin' York- 
shireman like you" — 

"Nay," says 1, " it's none o' t' blunderin' York- 
shireman she wants; it's Rip. He's t' gentle- 
man this journey." 

Soa t' next day, Mulvaney an' Rip an' me goes 
to Mrs. DeSussa's, an' t' Irishman bein' a strainger 
she wor a bit shy at fost. But yo've heeard Mul- 
vaney talk, an' yo' may believe as he fairly be- 
witched t' awd lass wal she let out 'at she 
wanted to tek Rip away wi' her to Munsooree 
Pahar. Then Mulvaney changes his tune an' axes 
her solemn-like if she'd thought o' t' conse- 
quences o' gettin' two poor but honest soldiers 
sent t' Andamning Islands. Mrs. DeSussa began 
to cry, so Mulvaney turns round oppen t' other 
tack and smooths her down, allowin' 'at Rip ud 
be a vast better off in t' Hills than down i' Ben- 
gal, and 'twas a pity he shouldn't go wheer he 
was so well beliked. And soa he went on. 

Private Learoyd's Story 665 

backin' an' fillin' an' workin' up t' awd lass wal 
she fell as if her life warn't worth nowt if she 
didn't hev t' dog. 

Then all of a suddint he sa^'s: — " But ye shall 
have him, marm, for I've a feelin' heart, not like 
this could-blooded Yorkshireman; but 'twill cost 
ye not a penny less than three hundher rupees." 

"Don't yo' believe him, mum," says I; "t' 
Colonel's Laady wouldn't tek five hundred for 

" Who said she would }" says Mulvaney ; " it's 
not buyin' him I mane, but for the sake o' this 
kind, good laady, I'll do what 1 never dreamt to 
do in my life. I'll stale him! " 

"Don't say steal," says Mrs. DeSussa; "he 
shall have the happiest home. Dogs often get 
lost, you know, and then they stray, an' he likes 
me and I like him as I niver liked a dog yet, an' I 
must hev him. If I got him at t' last minute 1 
could carry him off to Munsooree Pahar and no- 
body would niver knaw. " 

Now an' again Mulvaney looked acrost at me, 
an' though 1 could mak nowt o' what he was 
after, 1 concluded to take his leead. 

" Well, mum," I says, " I never thowt to coom 
down to dog-steealin', but if my comrade sees 
how it could be done to oblige a laady like yo'- 
sen, I'm nut t' man to hod back, tho' it's a bad 
business I'm thinkin', an' three hundred rupees is 

666 Indian Tales 

a poor set-off again t' chance of them Damning 
Islands as Mulvaney tall<s on." 

"I'll mek it three fifty," says Mrs. DeSussa; 
" only let me hev t' dog ! " 

So we let her persuade us, an' she teks Rip's 
m.easure theer an' then, an' sent to Hamilton's to 
order a silver collar again t' time when he was to 
be her awn, which was to be t' day she set off 
for Munsooree Pahar. 

"Sitha, Mulvaney," says \, when we was out- 
side, "you're niver goin' to let her hev Rip! " 

"An' would ye disappoint a poor old woman ? " 
says he; "she shall have a Rip." 

" An' wheer's he to come through }" says I. 

" Learoyd, m.y man." he sings out, "you're a 
pretty man av your inches an' a good comrade, 
but your head is made av duff. Isn't our friend 
Orth'ris a Taxidermist, an' a rale artist wid his 
nimble white fingers ? An' what's a Taxidermist 
but a man who can thrate shkins } Do ye mind 
the white dog that belongs to the Canteen Sar- 
gint, bad cess to him — he that's lost half his time 
an' snarlin' the rest ? He shall be lost for good 
now; an' do ye mind that he's the very spit in 
shape an' size av the Colonel's, barrin' that his 
tail is an inch too long, an' he has none av the 
color that divarsifies the rale Rip, an' his timper 
is that av his masther an' worse. But fwhat is 
an inch on a dog's tail ? An' fwhat to a profes- 

Private Learqyd's Story 667 

sional like Orth'ris is a few ringstraked shpots av 
black, brown, an' white? Nothin' at all, at all." 

Then we meets Orth'ris, an' that Httle man, 
bein' sharp as a needle, seed his way through t' 
business in a minute. An' he went to work 
a-practicin' 'air-dyes the very next day, beginnin' 
on some white rabbits he had, an' then he drored 
all Rip's markin's on t' back of a white Commis- 
sariat bullock, so as to get his 'and in an' be sure 
of his colors; shadin' off brown into black as 
nateral as life. If Rip ked a fault it was too mich 
markin', but it was straingely reg'lar an' Orth'ris 
settled himself to make a fost-rate job on it when 
he got baud o' t' Canteen Sargint's dog. Theer 
niver was sich a dog as thot for bad temper, an' 
It did nut get no better when his tail hed to be 
fettled an inch an' a half shorter. But they may 
talk o' theer Royal Academies as they like. 7 
niver seed a bit 0' animal paintin' to beat t' copy 
as Orth'ris made of Rip's marks, wal t' picter it- 
self was snarlin' all t' time an' tryin' to get at Rip 
standin' theer to be copied as good as goold. 

Orth'ris alius hed as mich conceit on himsen as 
would lift a balloon, an' he wor so pleeased wi' his 
sham Rip he wor for tekking him to Mrs. DeSussa 
before she went away. But Mulvaney an' me 
stopped thot, knowin' Orth'ris's work, though 
niver so cliver, was nobbut skin-deep. 

An' at last Mrs. DeSussa fixed t' day for startin' 

668 Indian Tales 

to Munsooree Pahar. We was to tek Rip to t* 
stayshun i' a basket an' hand him ovver just when 
they was ready to start, an' then she'd give us t' 
brass — as was agreed upon. 

An' my wod! It were high time she were off, 
for them 'air-dyes upon t' cur's back took a vast 
of paintin' to keep t' reet culler, tho' Orth'ris spent 
a matter o' seven rupees six annas i' t' best droog- 
gist shops i' Calcutta. 

An' t' Canteen Sargint was lookin' for 'is dog 
everywheer; an', wi' bein' tied up, t' beast's tim- 
per got waur nor ever. 

It wor i' t' evenin' when t' train started thro' 
Howrah, an' we 'elped Mrs. DeSussa wi' about 
sixty boxes, an' then we gave her t' basket. 
Orth'ris, for pride av his work, axed us to let 
him coom along wi' us, an' he couldn't help liftin' 
t' lid an' showin' t' cur as he lay coiled oop. 

"Oh! " says t' awd lass; "thebeautee! How 
sweet he looks! " An' just then t' beauty snarled 
an' showed his teeth, so Mulvaney shuts down t' 
lid and says: " Ye'll be careful, marm, whin ye 
ttk him out. He's disaccustomed to traveling by 
t' railway, an' he'll be sure to want his rale mis- 
tress an' his friend Learoyd, so ye'll make allow- 
ance for his feelings at fost." 

She would do all thot an' more for the dear, 
good Rip, an' she would nut oppen t' basket till 
they were miles away, for fear anybody should 

P rivate Learoyd's Story 669 

recognize him, an' we were real good and kind 
soldier-men, we were, an' she honds me a bundle 
o' notes, an' then cooms up a few of her rela- 
tions an' friends to say good-bye — not more than 
seventy-five there wasn't — an' we cuts away. 

What coom to t' three hundred and fifty rupees ? 
Thot's what I can scarcelins tell yo', but we 
melted it — we melted it. It was share an' share 
alike, for Mulvaney said: "if Learoyd got hold 
of Mrs. DeSussa first, sure, 'twas I that remim- 
bered the Sargint's dog just in the nick av time, 
an' Orth'ris was the artist av janius that made a 
work av art out av that ugly piece av ill-nature. 
Yet, by way av a thank-offerin' that I was not 
led into felony by that wicked ould woman, I'll 
send a thrifle to Father Victor for the poor people 
he's always beggin' for." 

But me an' Orth'ris, he bein' Cockney, an' I 
bein' pretty far north, did nut see it i' t' saame 
way. We'd getten t' brass, an' we meaned to 
keep it. An' soa we did — for a short time. 

Noa, noa, we niver heeard a wod more 0' t' 
awd lass. Our rig'mint went to Pindi, an' t' 
Canteen Sargint he got himself another tyke in- 
steead o' t' one 'at got lost so reg'lar, an' was lost 
for good at last. 


I closed and drew for my Love's sake. 

That now is false to me, 
And I slew the Riever of Tarrant Moss, 

And set Dumeny free. 

And ever they give me praise and gold, 

And ever I moan my loss ; 
For I struck the blow for my false Love's sake. 

And not for the men of the Moss ! 

— Tarrant Moss. 

ONE of the many curses of our life in India is 
the want of atmosphere in the painter's 
sense. There are no half-tints worth noticing. 
Men stand out all crude and raw, with nothing to 
tone them down, and nothing to scale them 
against. They do their work, and grow to think 
that there is nothing but their work, and nothing 
like their work, and that they are the real pivots 
on which the Administration turns. Here is an 
instance of this feeling. A half-caste clerk was 
ruling forms in a Pay Office. He said to me, 
" Do you know what would happen if I added 
or took away one single line on this sheet?'" 

Wressley of the Foreign Office 671 

Then, with the air of a conspirator, " It would 
disorganize the whole of the Treasury payments 
throughout the whole of the Presidency Circle! 
Think of that!" 

If men had not this delusion as to the ultra- 
importance of their own particular employments, 
I suppose that they would sit down and kill 
themselves. But their weakness is wearisome, 
particularly when the listener knows that he him- 
self commits exactly the same sin. 

Even the Secretariat believes that it does good 
when it asks an over-driven Executive Officer to 
take a census of wheat-weevils through a district 
of five thousand square mileSo 

There was a man once in the Foreign Office — a 
man who had grown middle-aged in tho Depart- 
ment, and was commonly said, by irreverent 
juniors, to be able to repeat Aitchison's Treaties 
and Sunnuds backward in his sleep. What he 
did with his stored knowledge only the Secretary 
knew; and he, naturally, would not publish the 
news abroad. This man's name was Wressley, 
and it was the Shibboleth, in those days, to say 
— "Wressley knows more about the Central 
Indian States than any living man." If you did 
not say this, you were considered one of mean 

Nowadays, the man who says that he knows 
the ravel of the inter-tribal complications across 

6/2 Indian Tales 

the Border is more of use; but, in Wressley's 
time, mucii attention was paid to the Central 
Indian States. They were called "foci" and 
"factors," and all manner of imposing names. 

And here the curse of Anglo-Indian life fell 
heavily. When Wressley lifted up his voice, and 
spoke about such-and-such a succession to such- 
and-such a throne, the Foreign Office were silent, 
and Heads of Departments repeated the last two 
or three words of Wressley's sentences, and 
tacked "yes, yes," on to them, and knew that 
they were assisting the Empire to grapple with 
serious political contingencies. In most big un- 
dertakings, one or two men do the work while 
the rest sit near and talk till the ripe decorations 
begin to fall. 

Wressley was the working-member of the 
Foreign Office firm, and, to keep him up to his 
duties when he showed signs of flagging, he 
was made much of by his superiors and told 
what a fine fellow he was. He did not require 
coaxing, because he was of tough build, but 
what he received confirmed him in the belief 
that there was no one quite so absolutely and 
imperatively necessary to the stability of India as 
Wressley of the Foreign Office. There might 
be other good men, but the known, honored and 
trusted man among men was Wressley of the 
Foreign Office. We had a Viceroy in those days 

Wressley of the Foreign Office 673 

who knew exactly when to "gentle" a fractious 
big man, and to hearten-up a collar-galled little 
one, and so keep all his team level. He con- 
veyed to Wressley the impression which 1 have 
just set down; and even tough men are apt to 
be disorganized by a Viceroy's praise. There 
was a case once — but that is another story. 

All India knew Wressley's name and office — it 
was in Thacker and Spink's Directory — but who 
he was personally, or what he did, or what his 
special merits were, not fifty men knew or cared. 
His work filled all his time, and he found no 
leisure to cultivate acquaintances beyond those 
of dead Rajput chiefs with Ahi'r blots in their 
scutcheons. Wressley would have made a very 
good Clerk in the Herald's College had he not 
been a Bengal Civilian. 

Upon a day, between office and office, great 
trouble came to Wressley — overwhelmed him, 
knocked him down, and left him gasping as 
though he had been a little schoolboy. With- 
out reason, against prudence, and at a moment's 
notice, he fell in love with a frivolous, golden- 
haired girl who used to tear about Simla Mall on 
a high, rough waler, with a blue velvet jockey- 
cap crammed over her eyes. Her name was 
Venner — Tillie Venner — and she was delightful. 
She took Wressley's heart at a hand-gallop, and 
Wressley found that it was not good for man 

674 Indian Tales 

to live alone; even with half the Foreign Office 
Records in his presses. 

Then Simla laughed, for Wressley in love was 
slightly ridiculous. He did his best to interest 
the girl in himself — that is to say, his work— and 
she, after the manner of women, did her best to 
appear interested in what, behind his back, she 
called "Mr. W'essley's Wajahs"; for she lisped 
very prettily. She did not understand one little 
thing about them, but she acted as if she did. 
Men have married on that sort of error before 

Providence, however, had care of Wressley. 
He was immensely struck with Miss Venner's 
intelligence. He would have been more im- 
pressed had he heard her private and confidential 
accounts of his calls. He held peculiar notions 
as to the wooing of girls. He said that the best 
work of a man's career should be laid reverently 
at their feet. Ruskin writes something like this 
somewhere, I think; but in ordinary life a few 
kisses are better and save time. 

About a month after he had lost his heart to 
Miss Venner, and had been doing his work vilely 
in consequence, the first idea of his Native Rule 
in Central India struck Wressley and filled him 
with joy. It was, as he sketched it, a great thing 
— the work of his life — a really comprehensive 
survey of a most fascinating subject — to be writ- 

Wressley of the Foreign Office 67^ 

ten with all the special and laboriously acquired 
knowledge of Wressley of the Foreign Office — a 
gift fit for an Empress. 

He told Miss Venner that he was going to take 
leave, and hoped, on his return, to bring her a 
present worthy of her acceptance. Would she 
wait } Certainly she would. Wressley drew 
seventeen hundred rupees a month. She would 
wait a year for that. Her Mamma would help 
her to wait. 

So Wressley took one year's leave and all the 
available documents, about a truck-load, that he 
could lay hands on, and went down to Central 
India with his notion hot in his head. He began 
his book in the land he was writing of. Too 
much official correspondence had made him a 
frigid workman, and he must have guessed that 
he needed the white light of local color on his 
palette. This is a dangerous paint for amateurs 
to play with. 

Heavens, how that man worked! He caught 
his Rajahs, analyzed his Rajahs, and traced them 
up into the mists of Time and beyond, with their 
queens and their concubines. He dated and cross- 
dated, pedigreed and triple-pedigreed, compared, 
noted, connoted, wove, strung, sorted, selected, 
inferred, calendared and counter-calendared for 
ten hours a day. And, because this sudden and 
new light of Love was upon him, he turned those 

6/6 Indian Tales 

dry bones of history and dirty records of mis- 
deeds into tilings to weep or to laugli over as lie 
pleased. His heart and soul were at the end of 
his pen, and they got into the ink. He was 
dowered with sympathy, insight, humor, and 
style for two hundred and thirty days and 
nights; and his book was a Book. He had his 
vast special knowledge with him, so to speak; 
but the spirit, the woven-in human Touch, the 
poetry and the power of the output, were be- 
yond all special knowledge. But 1 doubt whether 
he knew the gift that was in him then, and thus 
he may have lost some happiness. He was toil- 
ing for Tillie Venner, not for himself. Men often 
do their best work blind, for some one else's 

Also, though this has nothing to do with the 
story, in India where every one knows every one 
else, you can watch men being driven, by the 
women who govern them, out of the rank-and- 
file and sent to take up points alone. A good 
man, once started, goes forward; but an average 
man, so soon as the woman loses interest in his 
success as a tribute to her power, comes back to 
the battalion and is no more heard of. 

Wressley bore the first copy of his book to 
Simla, and, blushing and stammering, presented 
it to Miss Venner. She read a little of it. I give 
her review verbatim — "Oh your book.? It's all 

Wressley of the Foreign Office 677 

about those howwid Wajahs. I didn't under- 
stand it." 

Wressley of the Foreign Office was broken, 
smashed, — I am not exaggerating — by this one 
frivolous little girl. All that he could say feebly 
was — "But — but it's my magnum opus! The 
work of my life." Miss Venner did not know 
what magnum opus meant; but she knew that 
Captain Kerrington had won three races at the 
last Gymkhana. Wressley didn't press her to 
wait for him any longer. He had sense enough 
for that. 

Then came the reaction after the year's strain, 
and Wressley went back to the Foreign Office and 
his " Wajahs," a compiling, gazetteering, report- 
writing hack, who would have been dear at three 
hundred rupees a month. He abided by Miss Ven- 
ner's review. Which proves that the inspiration 
in the book was purely temporary and uncon- 
nected with himself. Nevertheless, he had nc 
right to sink, in a hill-tarn, five packing-cases, 
brought up at enormous expense from Bombay, 
of the best book of Indian history ever written. 

When he sold off before retiring, some years 
later, I was turning over his shelves, and came 
across the only existing copy of Native Rule in 
Central India — the copy that Miss Venner could 

678 Indian Tales 

not understand. I read it, sitting on his mule- 
trunks, as long as the hght lasted, and offered 
him his own price for it. He looked over my 
shoulder for a few pages and said to himself 
drearily — 

"Now, how in the world did I come to write 
such damned good stuff as that.^" 

Then to me — 

"Take it and keep it. Write one of your 
penny-farthing yarns about its birth. Perhaps — 
perhaps — the whole business may have been or- 
dained to that end." 

Which, knowing what Wressley of the For- 
eign Oifice was once, struck me as about the bit- 
terest thing that I had ever heard a man say of 
his own work. 


Did ye see John Malone, wid his shinin', brand-new hat ? 

Did ye see how he walked like a grand aristocrat ? 

There was flags an' banners wavin' high, an' dhress and shtyle 

were shown, 
But the best av all the company was Misther John Malone. 

John Malone. 

THERE had been a royal dog-fight in the ravine 
at the back of the rifle-butts, between Lea- 
royd's Jock and Ortheris's Blue /?o/— both mon- 
grel Rampur hounds, chiefly ribs and teeth. It 
lasted for twenty happy, howling minutes, and 
then Blue Rot collapsed and Ortheris paid Learoyd 
three rupees, and we were all very thirsty. A 
dog-fight is a most heating entertainment, quite 
apart from the shouting, because Rampurs fight 
over a couple of acres of ground. Later, when 
the sound of belt-badges clicking against the 
necks of beer-bottles had died away, conver- 
sation drifted from dog to man-fights of all kinds. 
Humans resemble red-deer in some respects. 
Any talk of fighting seems to wake up a sort of 
imp in their breasts, and they bell one to the 
other, exactly like challenging bucks. This is 
noticeable even in men who consider themselves 

68o Indian Tales 

superior to Privates of the Line: it shows the Re- 
fining Influence of Civilization and the March of 

Tale provoked tale, and each tale more beer. 
Even dreamy Learoyd's eyes began to brighten, 
and he unburdened himself of a long history in 
which a trip to Malham Cove, a girl at Pateley 
Brigg, a ganger, himself and a pair of clogs were 
mixed in drawling tangle. 

"An' so Ah coot's yead oppen from t' chin to 
t' hair, an' he was abed for t' matter o' a month,'" 
concluded Learoyd, pensively. 

Mulvaney came out of a revery — he was lying 
down — and flourished his heels in the air. 
"You're a man, Learoyd," said he, critically, 
"but you've only fought wid men, an' that's an 
ivry-day expayrience; but I've stud up to a ghost, 
an' that was wo/ an ivry-day expayrience." 

" No ?" said Ortheris, throwing a cork at him. 
"You git up an' address the 'ouse — you an' yer 
expayriences. is it a bigger one nor usual ?" 

" 'Twas the livin' trut'! " answered Mulvaney, 
stretching out a huge arm and catching Ortheris 
by the collar. "Now where are ye, me son? 
Will ye take the wurrud av the Lorrd out av my 
mouth another time ? " He shook him to empha- 
size the question. 

"No, somethin' else, though," said Ortheris, 
making a dash at Mulvaney's pine, capturing it 

The Solid Muldoon 68 1 

and holding it at arm's length; "1*11 chuck it 
acrost the ditch if you don't let me go! " 

" You maraudin' hathen! 'Tis the only cutty I 
iver loved. Handle her tinder or I'll chuck you 
acrost the nullah. If that poipe was bruk — Ah! 
Give her back to me, sorr! " 

Ortheris had passed the treasure to my hand. 
It was an absolutely perfect clay, as shmy as the 
black ball at Pool. I took it reverently, but I was 

"Will you tell us about the ghost-fight if I 
do ?" I said. 

"is ut the shtory that's troublin' you? Av 
course 1 will. I mint to all along. I was only 
gettin' at ut my own way, as Popp Doggie said 
whin they found him thrying to ram a cartridge 
down the muzzle. Orth'ris, fall away ! " 

He released the little Londoner, took back his 
pipe, filled it, and his eyes twinkled. He has th? 
most eloquent eyes of any one that I know. 

"Did I iver tell you," he began, "that I was 
wanst the divil of a man ?" 

"You did," said Learoyd, with a childish 
gravity that made Ortheris yell with laughter, for 
Mulvaney was always impressing upon us his 
great merits in the old days. 

"Did I iver tell you," Mulvaney continued, 
calmly, "that I was wanst more av a divil than I 
am now ?" 

682 Indian Tales 

"' Mer — ria! You don't mean it?" said Or- 

"Whin I was Corp'ril — I was rejuced afther- 
ward — but, as I say, whin I was Corp'ril, I was a 
divil of a man." 

He was silent for nearly a minute, while his 
mind rummaged among old memories and his 
eye glowed. He bit upon the pipe-stem and 
charged into his tale. 

"Eyah! They was great times. I'm ould 
now; me hide's wore otT in patches; sinthrygo 
has disconceited me, an' I'm a married man tu. 
But I've had my day — I've had my day, an' 
nothin' can take away the taste av that! Oh my 
time past, whin I put me fut through ivry livin* 
wan av the Tin Commandmints between Rev- 
elly and Lights Out, blew the froth off a pewter, 
wiped me moustache wid the back av me hand, 
an' slept on ut all as quiet as a little child! But 
ut's over — ut's over, an' 'twill niver come back 
to me; not though I prayed for a week av Sun- 
days. Was there any wan in the Ould Rig'mint 
to touch Corp'ril Terence Mulvaney whin that 
same was turned out for sedukshin ? I niver met 
him. Ivry woman that was not a witch was 
worth the runnin' afther in those days, an' ivry 
man was my dearest frind or — I had stripped to 
him an' we knew which was the betther av the tu. 

" Whin I was Corp'ril I wud not ha' changed 

The Solid Muldoon 683 

wid the Colonel — no, nor yet the Commandher- 
in-Chief. 1 wud be a Sargint. There was 
nothin' I wud not be! Mother av Hivin, look 
at me! Fwhat am I noiv ? 

"We was quartered in a big cantonmint — 'tis 
no manner av use namin' names, for ut might 
give the barricks disrepitation — an' I was the 
Imperor av the Earth to my own mind, an' wan 
or tu women thought the same. Small blame to 
thim. Afther we had Iain there a year, Bragin, 
the Color Sargint av E Comp'ny, wint an' took a 
wife that was lady's maid to some big lady in 
the Station. She's dead now is Annie Bragin — 
died in child-bed at Kirpa Tal, or ut may ha' been 
Almorah — seven — nine years gone, an' Bragin he 
married agin. But she was a pretty woman 
whin Bragin inthrojuced her to cantonmint so- 
ciety. She had eyes like the brown av a butther- 
fly's wing whin the sun catches ut, an' a waist 
no thicker than my arm, an' a little sof button av 
a mouth I would ha' gone through all Asia 
bristlin' wid bay'nits to get the kiss av. An' her 
hair was as long as the tail av the Colonel's 
charger — forgive me mentionin' that blunderin' 
baste in the same mouthful with Annie Bragin — 
but 'twas all shpun gold, an' time was when ut 
was more than di'monds to me. There was 
niver pretty woman yet, an' I've had thruck wid 
a few, cud open the door to Annie Bragin. 

684 Indian Tales 

"Twas in the Cath'Iic Chapel I saw her first, 
me oi rolling round as usual to see fwhat was to 
be seen. ' You're too good for Bragin, my love,' 
thinks I to mesilf, ' but that's a mistake I can put 
straight, or my name is not Terence Mulvaney.' 

"Now take my wurrd for ut, you Orth'ris 
there an' Learoyd, an' kape out av the Married 
Quarters — as I did not. No good iver comes av 
ut, an' there's always the chance av your bein' 
found wid your face in the dirt, a long picket in 
the back av your head, an' your hands playing 
the fifes on the tread av another man's doorstep. 
'Twas so we found O'Hara, he that Rafferty 
killed six years gone, when he wint to his death 
wid his hair oiled, whistlin' Larry O Rourke be- 
tune his teeth. Kape out av the Married Quarters, 
I say, as I did not. 'Tis onwholesim, 'tis danger- 
ous, an' 'tis ivrything else that's bad, but — O my 
sowl, 'tis swate while ut lasts! 

" I was always hangin' about there whin I was 
off duty an' Bragin wasn't, but niver a sweet 
word beyon' ordinar' did I get from Annie Bragin. 
''Tis the pervarsity av the sect,' sez I to mesilf, 
an' gave my cap another cock on my head an' 
straightened my back — 'twas the back av a 
Dhrum Major in those days — an' wint off as tho' 
I did not care, wid all the women in the Married 
Quarters laughin'. I was pershuaded — most 
bhoys a''-e I'm thinkin' — that no women born av 

The Solid Muldoon 685 

woman cud stand against me av I hild up my lit- 
tle finger. 1 had reason fer thinkin' that way — 
till I met Annie Bragin. 

"Time an' agin whin I was blandandherin' in 
the dusk a man wud go past me as quiet as a cat. 
'That's quare,' thinks I, ' for I am, or 1 should be, 
the only man in these parts. Now what divil- 
ment can Annie be up to }' Thin I called myself 
a blayguard for thinkin' such things; but I 
thought thim all the same. An' that, mark you, 
is the way av a man. 

"Wan evenin' I said: — 'Mrs. Bragin, manin' 
no disrespect to you, who is that Corp'ril man' 
— I had seen the stripes though I cud niver get 
sight av his face — ' who is that Corp'ril man that 
comes in always whin I'm goin' away ?' 

"'Mother av God!' sez she, turnin' as white 
as my belt; ' Yiaweyou seen him too ?' 

"'Seen him!' sez I; 'av coorse I have. Did 
ye want me not to see him, for' — we were 
standin' talkin' in the dhark, outside the veranda 
av Bragin's quarters — 'you'd betther tell me to 
shut me eyes. Onless I'm mistaken, he's come 

"An', sure enough, the Corp'ril man was 
walkin' to us, hangin' his head down as though 
he was ashamed av himsilf. 

"'Good-night, Mrs. Bragin,' sez I, very cool; 
* 'tis not for me to interfere wid your a-moors ; 

650 Indian Tales 

but you might manage some things wid more 
dacincy. I'm off to canteen,' I sez. 

" I turned on my heel an' wint away, swearin' 
I wud give that man a dhressin' that wud shtop 
him messin' about the Married Quarters for a 
month an' a week. I had not tuk ten paces be- 
fore Annie Bragin was hangin' on to my arm, an* 
I cud feel that she was shakin' all over. 

"'Stay wid me, Mister Mulvaney,' sez she; 
'you're flesh an' blood, at the least — are ye 
not ? ' 

" ' I'm all that,' sez I, an' my anger wint away 
in a flash. 'Will I want to be asked twice, 
Annie ?' 

"Wid that I slipped my arm round her waist, 
for, begad, I fancied she had surrindered at dis- 
cretion, an' the honors av war were mine. 

" ' Fwhat nonsinse is this?' sez she, dhrawin' 
hersilf up on the tips av her dear little toes. 
' Wid the mother's milk not dhry on your im- 
pident mouth ? Let go! ' she sez. 

" Did ye not say just now that I was flesh and 
blood?' sez I. 'I have not changed since,' I 
sez; an' I kep' rny arm where ut was. 

"'Your arms to yourself!' sez she, an' her 
eyes sparkild. 

"'Sure, 'tis only human nature,' sez I, an' I 
kep' my arm where ut was. 

"'Nature or no nature/ sez she, 'yov take 

The Solid Muldoon 687 

your arm away or I'll tell Bragin, an' he'll alter 
the nature av your head. Fwhat d'you take me 
for ? ' she sez. 

" 'A woman,' sez I; 'the prettiest in barricks.' 

'"A wife,' sez she; 'the straightest in canton- 

"Wid that I dropped my arm, fell back tu 
paces, an' saluted, for I saw that she mint fwhat 
she said." 

"Then you know something that some men 
would give a good deal to be certain of. How 
could you tell?" I demanded in the interests of 

"Watch the hand," said Mulvaney; "av she 
shut her hand tight, thumb down over the 
knuckle, take up your hat an' go. You'll only 
make a fool av yoursilf av you shtay. But av the 
hand lies opin on the lap, or av you see her 
thryin' to shut ut, an' she can't, — go on! She's 
not past reasonin' wid. 

"Well, as I was sayin", 1 fell back, saluted, an' 
was goin' away. 

"'Shtay wid me,' she sez. 'Look! He's 
comin' again.' 

" She pointed to the veranda, an' by the Hoight 
av Impart'nince, the Corp'ril man was comin' out 
av Bragin's quarters. 

" ' He's done that these five evenin's past,' sez 
Annie Bragin. ' Oh. fwhat will 1 do! ' 

688 Indian Tales 

"'He'll not do ut again,' sez I, for I was 
fightin' mad. 

" Kape way from a man that has been a thrifle 
crossed in love till the fever's died down. He 
rages like a brute beast. 

"I wint up to the man in the veranda, manin', 
as sure as I sit, to knock the life out av him. He 
slipped into the open. ' Fwhat are you doin' 
philanderin' about here, ye scum av the gutter?' 
sez 1 polite, to give him his warnin', for 1 wanted 
him ready. 

" He niver lifted his head, but sez, all mournful 
an' melancolius, as if he thought 1 wud be sorry 
for him: ' I can't find her,' sez he. 

" ' My troth,' sez I, * you've lived too long — you 
an' your seekin's an' findin's in a dacint married 
woman's quarters! Hould up your head, ye 
frozen thief av Genesis,' sez I, ' an' you'll find all 
you want an' more! ' 

"But he niver hild up, an' I let go from the 
shoulder to where the hair is short over the eye- 

" 'That'll do your business,' sez I, but it nearly 
did mine instid. 1 put my bodyweight behind 
the blow, but I hit nothing at all, an' near put my 
shoulther out. The Corp'ril man was not there, 
an' Annie Bragin, who had been watchin' from 
the veranda, throws up her heels, an' carries on 
like a cock whin his neck's wrung by the 

The Solid Miildoon 689 

dhrummer-bhoy. I wint back to her, for a livin' 
woman, an' a woman like Annie Bragin, is more 
than a p'rade-groun' full av ghosts. I'd never 
seen a woman faint before, an" I stud like a 
shtuck calf, askin' her whether she was dead, an' 
prayin her for the love av me, an' the love av her 
husband, an' the love av the Virgin, to opin her 
blessed eyes again, an' callin' mesilf all the names 
undher the canopy av Hivin for plaguin' her wid 
my miserable a-moors whin I ought to ha' stud 
betune her an' this Corp'ril man that had lost the 
number av his mess. 

"I misremimber fwhat nonsinse I said, but I 
was not so far gone that I cud not hear a fut on 
the dirt outside. 'Twas Bragin comin' in, an' by 
the same token Annie was comin' to. I jumped 
to the far end av the veranda an' looked as if 
butter wudn't melt in my mouth. But Mrs. 
Quinn, the Quarter-Master's wife that was, had 
tould Bragin about my hangin' round Annie. 

"'I'm not pleased wid you, Mulvaney,' sez 
Bragin, unbucklin' his sword, for he had been on 

"'That's bad hearin',' I sez, an' I knew that 
the pickets were dhriven in. 'What for, Sar- 
gint?' sez I. 

"'Come outside,' sez he, 'an' I'll show you 

" 'I'm willin',' I sez; 'but my stripes are none 

Sgo Indian Tales 

so ould that I can afford to lose thim. Tell me 
now, who do I go out wid ? ' sez I. 

"He was a quick man an' a just, an' saw 
fwhat I wud be afther. ' Wid Mrs. Bragin's 
husband,' sez he. He might ha' known by me 
askin' that favor that 1 had done him no wrong. 

"We wint to the back av the arsenal an' I 
stripped to him, an' for ten minutes 'twas all I 
cud do to prevent him killin* himself against my 
fistes. He was mad as a dumb dog — ^just froth- 
ing wid rage; but he had no chanst wid me in 
reach, or learnin', or anything else. 

" 'Will ye hear reason?' sez 1, whin his first 
wind was run out. 

" 'Not whoile I can see,' sez he, Wid that I 
gave him both, one after the other, smash 
through the low gyard that he'd been taught whin 
he was a boy, an' the eyebrow shut down on the 
cheek-bone like the wing av a sick crow. 

" 'Will you hear reason now, ye brave man?' 
sez I. 

" 'Not whoile I can speak,' sez he, staggerin' 
up blind as a stump. 1 was loath to do ut, but I 
wint round an' swung into the jaw side-on an' 
shifted ut a half pace to the lef. 

"'Will ye hear reason now?' sez I; 'I can't 
keep my timper much longer, an' 'tis like I will 
hurt you.' 

" ' Not whoile I can stand,' he mumbles out av 

The Solid Muldoon 691 

one corner av his mouth. So I closed an' threw 
him — blind, dumb, an' sick, an' jammed the jaw 

" ' You're an ould fool, Mister Bragin,' sez I. 

"'You're a young thief/ sez he, 'an' ycuVe 
bruk my heart, you an' Annie betune you! ' 

" Thin he began cryin' like a child as he lay. I 
was sorry as 1 had niver been before. 'Tis an 
awful thing to see a strong man cry. 

" ' I'll swear on the Cross ! ' sez I. 

" ' I care for none av your oaths,' sez he. 

" 'Come back to your quarters,' sez 1, 'an' if 
you don't believe the livin", begad, you shall 
listen to the dead,' 1 sez. 

" 1 hoisted him an' tuk him back to his quarters. 
'Mrs. Bragin,' sez I, ' here's a man that you can 
cure quicker than me.' 

"'You've shamed me before my wife,' he 

" ' Have I so .? ' sez I. ' By the look on Mrs. 
Bragin s face I think I'm for a dhressin'-down 
worse than I gave you.' 

"An' I was! Annie Bragin was woild wid 
indignation. There was not a name that a 
dacint woman cud use that was not given my 
way. I've had my Colonel walk roun' me like a 
cooper roun' a cask for fifteen minutes in Ord'ly 
Room, bekaze I wint into the Corner Shop an 
unstrapped lewnatic; but all that 1 iver tuk from 

692 Indian Tales 

his rasp av a tongue was ginger-pop to fwhat 
Annie tould me. An' tliat, mark you, is the way 
av a woman. 

"Whin ut was done for want av breath, an' 
Annie was bendin' over her husband, I sez: ' 'Tis 
ail thrue, an' I'm a blayguard an' you're an honest 
woman; but will you tell him of wan service 
that 1 did you } ' 

"As I finished speakin' the Corp'ril man came 
up to the veranda, an' Annie Bragin shquealed. 
The moon was up, an' we cud see his face. 

"M can't find her,' scz the Corp'ril man, an' 
wint out like the puff av a candle. 

"'Saints stand betune us an' evil!' sez 
Bragin, crossin' himself; * that's Flahy av the 

"'Who was he?' I sez, ' for he has given me 
a dale av fightin' this day.' 

" Bragin tould us that Flahy was a Corp'ril who 
lost his wife av cholera in those quarters three 
years gone, an' wint mad. an' walked afther they 
buried him, huntin' for her. 

"'Well,' sez I to Bragin, 'he's been hookin' 
out av Purgathory to kape company wid Mrs. 
Bragin ivry evenin' for the last fortnight. You 
may tell Mrs. Quinn, wid my love, for I know 
that she's been talkin' to you, an' you've been 
listenin', that she ought to ondherstand the differ 
'twixt a man an' a ghost. She's had three hus- 

The Solid h^ldoon 693 

bands,' sez I, 'an' you've got a wife too good for 
you. Instid av which you lave her to be bod- 
dered by ghosts an' — an' all manner av evil 
spirruts. I'll niver go talkin' in the way av 
politeness to a man's wife again. Good-night to 
you both,' sez 1; an' wid that I wint away, 
havin' fought wid woman, man and Divil all in 
the heart av an hour. By the same token I gave 
Father Victor wan rupee to say a mass for Flahy's 
soul, me havin' discommoded him by shticking 
my fist into his systim." 

"Your ideas of politeness seem rather large, 
Mulvaney," I said. 

"That's as you look at ut," said Mulvaney, 
calmly; " Annie Bragin niver cared for me. For 
all that, I did not want to leave anything behin' 
me that Bragin could take hould av to be angry 
wid her about — whin an honust wurrd cud ha' 
cleared all up. There's nothing like opin-speakin'. 
Orth'ris, ye scutt, let me put me oi to that bottle, 
for my throat's as dhry as whin I thought 1 wud 
get a kiss from Annie Bragin. An' that's four- 
teen years gone! Eyah! Cork's own city an' 
the blue sky above ut — an' the times that was — 
the times that was!" 


An' when the war began, we chased the bold Afghan, 
An' we made the bloomin' Ghazi for to flee, boys O ! 
An' we marched into Y^z-btil, an' we tuk the Balar 'Issar 
An' we taught 'em to respec' the British Soldier. 

Barrack Room Ballad. 

MULVANEY, Ortheris and Learoyd are Pri- 
vates in B Company of a Line Regiment, 
and personal friends of mine. Collectively I 
think, but am not certain, they are the worsf 
men in the regiment so far as genial blackguard- 
ism goes. 

They told me this story, in the Umballa Re- 
freshment Room while we were waiting for an 
up-train. I supplied the beer. The tale was 
cheap at a gallon and a half. 

All men know Lord Benira Trig. He is a 
Duke, or an Earl, or something unofficial; also a 
Peer; also a Globe-trotter. On all three counts, 
as Ortheris says, "'e didn't deserve no consider- 
ation." He was out in India for three months 
collecting materials for a book on "Our Eastern 
Impedimenta," and quartering himself upon 
everybody, like a Cossack in evening-dress. 

His particular vice — because he was a Radical, 

The Th ree Musketeers 695 

men said — was having garrisons turned out for 
his inspection. He would then dine with the 
Officer Commanding, and insult him, across the 
Mess table, about the appearance of the troops. 
That was Benira's way. 

He turned out troops once too often. He came 
to Helanthami Cantonment on a Tuesday. He 
wished to go shopping in the bazars on Wednes- 
day, and he "desired' the troops to be turned 
out on a Thursday. On — a — Thursday. The 
Officer Commanding could not well refuse; for 
Benira was a Lord. There was an indignation- 
meeting of subalterns in the Mess Room, to call 
the Colonel pet names. 

"But the rale dimonstrashin," said Mulvaney, 
"was in B Comp'ny barricl<; we three headin' 

Mulvaney climbed on to the refreshment-bar, 
settled himself comfortably by the beer, and 
went on, "Whin the row was at ut's foinest an' 
B Comp'ny was fur goin' out to murther this man 
Thrigg on the p'rade-groun', Learoyd here takes 
up his helmut an' sez — fv/hat was ut ye said } " 

"Ah said," said Learoyd, "gie us t' brass. 
Tak oop a subscripshun, lads, for to put off t' 
p'rade, an' if t' p'rade's not put off, ah'll gie t* 
brass back agean. Thot's wot ah said. All B 
Coomp'ny knawed me. Ah took oop a big sub- 
scripshun — fower rupees eight annas 'twas — an' 

6q6 Indian Tales 

ah went oot to turn t' job over. Mulvaney an' 
Orth'ris coom with me." 

"We three raises the Divil in couples gin'rally," 
explained Mulvaney. 

Here Ortheris interrupted. " 'Ave you read the 
papers.^" said he. 

"Sometimes," I said. 

"We 'ad read the papers, an' we put hup a 
faked decoity, a — a sedukshun." 

"y^Mukshin, ye cockney," said Mulvaney. 

"y^Mukshun or sedukshun — no great odds. 
Any'ow, we arranged to talk an' put Mister Ben- 
hira out o" the way till Thursday was hover, or 
'e too busy to rux 'isself about p'raids. Hi was 
the man wot said, * We'll make a few rupees off 
o' the business.' " 

"We hild a Council av War," continued Mul- 
vaney, "walkin' roun' by the Artill'ry Lines. I 
was Prisidint, Learoyd was Minister av Finance, 
an' little Orth'ris here was " — 

' ' A bloomin' Bismarck ! Hi made the 'ole show 

"This interferin' bit av a Benira man," said 
Mulvaney, " did the thrick for us himself; for, on 
me sowl, we hadn't a notion av what was to 
come afther the next minut. He was shoppin' 
in the bazar on fut. 'Twas dhrawin' dusk thin, 
an' we stud watchin' the little man hoppin' in an' 
out av the shops, thryin' to injuce the naygurs to 

The Three Musketeers 697 

mallum his bat. Prisintly, he sthrols up, his 
arrums full av thruck, an' he sez in a consi- 
quinshal way, shticking out his little belly, ' Me 
good men,' sez he, 'have ye seen the Kernel's 
b'roosh?' — ' B'roosh ?' says Learoyd. 'There's 
no b'roosh here — nobbut a hekka.' — ' F what's 
that?' sez Thrigg. Learoyd shows him wan 
down the sthreet, an' he sez, ' How thruly 
Orientil! I will ride on a hekka.' 1 saw thin 
that our Rigimintal Saint was for givin' Thrigg 
over to us neck an' brisket. 1 purshued a hekka, 
an' I sez to the dhriver-divil, I sez, ' Ye black 
limb, there's a Sahib comin' for this hekka. He 
wants to go jildi to the Padsahi Jhil ' — 'twas 
about tu moiles away — ' to shoot snipe — chirria. 
You dhrive Jehanmim ke marjik, mallum — like 
Hell ? 'Tis no manner av use bitkkin' to the 
Sahib, bekaze he doesn't samjao your talk. Av 
he bolos anything, just you choop and chel. 
Dekker? Go arsfy for the first aj^der-mile from 
cantonmints. Thin chel, Shaitan ke marjik, an' 
the chooper you choops an' the jildicr you chels 
the better kooshy will that Sahib be; an' here's a 
rupee for ye ? ' 

"The hekka-man knew there was somethin' 
out av the common in the air. He grinned ar' 
sez, 'Bote achee! I goin' damn fast.' I prayed 
that the Kernel's b'roosh wudn't arrive till me 
darlin' Benira by the grace av God was undhei 

698 Indian Taks 

weigh. The little man puts his thruck into the 
hekka an' scuttles in like a fat guinea-pig; niver 
offerin' us the price av a dhrink for our services 
in helpin' him home. ' He's off to the Padsahi 
jhil,' sez I to the others." 

Ortheris took up the tale — 

"Jist then, little Buldoo kirn up, '00 was the 
son of one of the Artillery grooms — 'e would 'av 
made a 'evinly newspaper-boy in London, bein' 
sharp an' fly to all manner o' games. 'E 'ad bin 
watchin' us puttin' Mister Benhira into 'is tem- 
porary baroush, an' 'e sez, ' What 'ave you been 
a doin' of, Sahibs?' sez 'e. Learoyd 'e caught 
'im by the ear an 'e sez " — 

"Ah says," went on Learoyd, 'Young mon, 
that mon's gooin' to have t' goons out o' Thurs- 
day — to-morrow — an' thot's more work for you, 
young mon. Now, sitha, tak' a tat an' a lookri, 
an' ride tha domdest to t' Padsahi Jhil. Cotch thot 
there hekka, and tell t' driver iv your lingo thot 
you've coom to tak' his place. T' Sahib doesn't 
speak t' bat, an' he's a little mon. Drive t' hekka 
into t' Padsahi Jhil into t' watter. Leave f Sahib 
theer an' roon hoam; an' here's a rupee for tha.' " 

Then Mulvaney and Ortheris spoke together in 
alternate fragments: Mulvaney leading [You must 
pick out the two speakers as best you can]: — 
•* He was a knowin' little divil was Bhuldoo, — 'e 
sez bote achee an' cuts — wid a wink in his oi — 

The Three Musketeers 699 

but Hi sez there's money to be made — an' ! 
wanted to see the ind av the campaign — so Hi 
says we'll double hout to the Padsahi Jhil — an' 
save the little man from bein' dacoited by the 
murtherin' Bhuldoo — an' turn hup like reskooers 
in a Vic'oria Melodrama — so we doubled for the 
jhil, an' prisintly there was the divil av a hurroosh 
behind us an' three bhoys on grasscuts' ponies 
come by, poundin' along for the dear life — s'elp 
me Bob, hif Buldoo 'adn't raised a rig'lar harmy 
of decoits — to do the job in shtile. An' we ran, 
an' they ran, shplittin' with laughin', till we gets 
near Xh^ jhil — and 'ears sounds of distress floatin' 
molloncolly on the hevenin' hair." [Ortheris was 
growing poetical under the influence of the beer. 
The duet recommenced : Mulvaney leading again.] 
" Thin we heard Bhuldoo, the dacoit, shoutin' 
to the hekka man, an' wan of the young divils 
brought his stick down on the top av the hehka- 
cover, an' Benira Thrigg inside howled 'Murther 
an' Death.' Buldoo takes the reins and dhrives 
like mad for the jhil, havin' dishpersed the hekka- 
dhriver — '00 cum up to us an' 'e sez, sez 'e, 'That 
Sahib's nigh mad with funk! Wot devil's work 
'ave you led me into?' — 'Hall right,' sez we, 
'you catch that there pony an' come along. This 
Sahib's been decoited, an' we're going to resky 
'im!' Says the driver, 'Decoits! Wot decoits? 
That's Buldoo the budmash ' — ' Bhuldoo be shot!' 

700 Indian Tales 

sez we. ' Tis a woild dissolute Pathan frum the 
hills. There's about eight av thim coercin' the 
Sahib. You remimber that an you'll get another 
rupee! ' Thin we heard the %x)hop-whop-whop sly 
the hekka turnin' over, an' a splash av water an' 
the voice av Benira Thrigg callin' upon God to 
forgive his sins — an' Buldoo an' 'is friends squot- 
terin' in the water like boys in the Serpentine." 

Here the Three Musketeers retired simulta- 
neously into the beer. 

" Well ? What came next ? " said I. 

" Fwhat nex'?" answered Mulvaney, wiping 
his mouth. " Wud ye let three bould sodger- 
bhoys lave the ornamint av the House av Lords 
to be dhrowned an' dacoited in a j'hil? We 
formed line av quarther-column an' we discinded 
upon the inimy. For the better part av tin min- 
utes you could not hear yerself spake. The tattoo 
was screamin' in chune wid Benira Thrigg an' 
Bhuldoo's army, an' the shticks was whistlin' 
roun' the hekka, an' Orth'ris was beatin' the 
hekka-cover wid his fistes, an' Learoyd yellin', 
'Look out for their knives!' an' me cuttin' into 
the dark, right an' lef, dishpersin' arrmy corps 
av Pathans. Holy Mother av Moses! 'twas more 
disp'rit than Ahmid Kheyl wid Maiwund thrown 
in. Afther a while Bhuldoo an' his bhoys flees. 
Have ye iver seen a rale live Lord thryin' to hide 
his nobility undher a fut an' a half av brown 

The Three Musketeers 701 

swamp-wather ? 'Tis the livin' image av a water- 
carrier's goatskin wid the shivers. It tuk toime 
to pershuade me frind Benira he was not disim- 
bowilled: an' more toime to get out the hekka. 
The dhriver come up afther the battle, swearin' 
he tuk a hand in repulsin' the inimy. Benira was 
sick wid the fear. We escorted him back, very 
slow, to cantonmints, for that an' the chill to 
soak into him. It suk! Glory be to the Rigi- 
mintil Saint, but it suk to the marrow av Lord 
Benira Thrigg!" 

Here Ortheris, slowly, with immense pride — 
**'E sez, 'You har my noble preservers,' sez 'e. 
'You har a ^onor to the British Harmy,' sez 'e. 
With that e' describes the hawful band of dacoits 
wot set on 'im. There was about forty of 'em 
an' 'e was hoverpowered by numbers, so 'e was; 
but 'e never lorst 'is presence of mind, so 'e 
didn't. 'E guv the hekka-&n\QX five rupees for 
'is noble assistance, an' 'e said 'e would see to us 
after 'e 'ad spoken to the Kernul. For we was a 
/fonor to the Regiment, we was." 

"An' we three," said Mulvaney, with a se- 
raphic smile, " have dhrawn the par-ti-cu-lar at- 
tinshin av Bobs Bahadur more than wanst. But 
he's a rale good little man is Bobs. Go on, Orth'- 
ris, my son." 

"Then we leaves 'im at the Kernul's 'ouse, 
werry sick, an' we cuts hover to B Comp'ny bar- 

702 India n Tales 

rick an' we sez we 'ave saved Benira from a 
bloody doom, an' the chances was agin there 
bein' p'raid on Thursday. About ten minutes 
later come three envelicks, one for each of us. 
S'elp me Bob, if the old bloke 'adn't guv us a 
fiver apiece — sixty-four rupees in the bazar! On 
Thursday 'e was in 'orspital recoverin' from 'is 
sanguinary encounter with a gang of Pathans, 
an' B Comp'ny was drinkin' 'emselves into Clink 
by squads. So there never was no Thursday 
p'raid. But the Kernul, when 'e 'eard of our 
galliant conduct, 'e sez, ' Hi know there's been 
some devilry somewheres,' sez 'e, 'but I can't 
bring it 'ome to you three.' " 

"An' my privit imprisshin is," said Mulvaney, 
getting off the bar and turning his glass upside 
down, "that, av they had known they wudn't 
have brought ut home. 'Tis flyin' in the face, 
firstly av Nature, secon' av the Rig'lations, an' 
third the will av Terence Mulvaney, to hold 
p'rades av Thursdays." 

"Good, ma son!" said Learoyd; "but, young 
mon, what's t' notebook for.?" 

"Let be," said Mulvaney; "this time next 
month we're in the Sherapis. 'Tis immortial fame 
the gentleman's goin' to give us. But kape it 
dhark till we're out av the range av me little frind 
Bobs Bahadur." 

And I have obeyed Mulvaney's order. 


Love heeds not caste nor sleep a broken bed. I went in 
search of love and lost myself. — Hindu Proverb. 

A MAN should, whatever happens, keep to 
his own caste, race and breed. Let the 
White go to the White and the Black to the 
Black. Then, whatever trouble falls is in the 
ordinary course of things — neither sudden, alien 
nor unexpected. 

This is the story of a man who wilfally stepped 
beyond the safe limits of decent everyday so- 
ciety, and paid for it heavily. 

He knew too much in the first instance; and 
he saw too much in the second. He took too 
deep an interest in native life; but he will never 
do so again. 

Deep away in the heart of the City, behind 
Jitha Megji's btistee, lies Amir Nalh's Gully, 
which ends in a dead-wall pierced by one grated 
window. At the head of the Gully is a big 
cowbyre, and the walls on either side of the 
Gully are without windows. Neither Suchet 
Singh nor Gaur Chand approve of their women- 
folk looking into the world. If Durga Charan 


Indian Tales 

had been of their opinion, he would have been a 
happier man to-day, and little Bisesa would have 
been able to knead her own bread. Her room 
looked out through the grated window into the 
narrow dark Gully where the sun never came 
and where the buffaloes wallowed in the blue 
slime. She was a widow, about fifteen years 
old, and she prayed the Gods, day and night, to 
send her a lover; for she did not approve of liv- 
ing alone. 

One day, the man — Trejago his name was — 
came into Amir Nath's Gully on an aimless wan- 
dering; and, after he had passed the buffaloes, 
stumbled over a big heap of cattle-food. 

Then he saw that the Gully ended in a trap, 
and heard a little laugh from behind the grated 
window. It was a pretty little laugh, and Tre- 
jago, knowing that, for all practical purposes, the 
old Arabian Nights are good guides, went for- 
ward to the window, and whispered that verse 
of " The Love Song of Har Dyal " which begins: 

Can a man stand upright in the face of the naked Sun ; or 
% Lover in the Presence of his Beloved ? 

If my feet fail me, O Heart of my Heart, am I to blam*, 
being blinded by the glimpse of your beauty ? 

There came the faint tchink of a woman's 
bracelets from behind the grating, and a little 
voice went on with the song at the fifth verse: 

Beyond the Pale 705 

Alas ! alas ! Can the Moon tell the Lotus of her love when 
the Gate of Heaven is shut and the clouds gather for the rains ? 

They have taken my Beloved, and driven her with the pack- 
horses to the North. 

There are iron chains on the feet that were set on my heart. 

Call to the bowmen to make ready — 

The voice stopped suddenly, and Trejago 
walked out of Amir Nath's Gully, wondering 
who in the world could have capped "The Love 
Song of Har Dyal " so neatly. 

Next morning, as he was driving to office, an 
old woman threw a packet into his dog-cart. In 
the packet was the half of a broken glass-bangle, 
one flower of the blood-red dhah, a pinch of 
bhusa or cattle-food, and eleven cardamoms. 
That packet was a letter — not a clumpsy com- 
promising letter, but an innocent unintelligible 
lovers epistle. 

Trejago knew far too much about these things, 
as I have said. No Englishman should be able to 
translate object-letters. But Trejago spread all 
the trifles on the lid of his office-box and began 
to puzzle them out. 

A broken glass-bangle stands for a Hindu 
widov/ all India over; because, when her hus- 
band dies, a woman's bracelets are broken o*^ her 
wrists. Trejago saw the meaning of the little bit 
of the glass. The flower of the dhak means 
diversely "desire," "come," " write," or "dan- 

7o6 Indian Tales 

ger," according to the other things with it. One 
cardamom means "jealousy"; but when any 
article is duplicated in an object-letter, it loses its 
symbolic meaning and stands merely for one of a 
number indicating time, or, if incense, curds, or 
saffron be sent also, place. The message ran 
then — "A widow — dhak flower and ^/^//sj, — at 
eleven o'clock." The pinch of bhusa enlightened 
Trejago. He saw — this kind of letter leaves 
much to instinctive knowledge — that the bhusa 
referred to the big heap of cattle-food over which 
he had fallen in Amir Nath's Gully, and that the 
message must come from the person behind the 
grating; she being a widow. So the message 
ran then — "A widow, in the Gully in which is 
the heap of bhusa, desires you to come at eleven 

Trejago threw all the rubbish into the fireplace 
and laughed. He knew that men in the East do 
not make love under windows at eleven in the 
forenoon, nor do women fix appointments a 
week in advance. So he went, that very night 
at eleven, into Amir Nath's Gully, clad in a 
boorka, which cloaks a man as well as a woman. 
Directly the gongs of the City made the hour, the 
littie voice behind the grating took up " The Love 
Song of Har Dyal " at the verse where the Pan- 
than girl calls upon Har Dyal to return. The 
Song is really pretty in the Vernacular. In Eng- 

Beyond the Pale 707 

lish you miss the wail of it. It runs something 
like this — 

Alone upon the housetops, to the North 

I turn and watch the lightning in the sky,— 

The glamour of thy footsteps in the North, 
Come back to tiie, Beloved, or I die ! 

Below my feet the still bazar is laid 
Far, far, below the weary camels lie, — 

The camels and the captives of thy raid, 
Cotne back to me. Beloved, or I die / 

My father's wife is old and harsh with years. 
And drudge of all my father's house am I.— 

My bread is sorrow and my drink is tears. 
Come back to me. Beloved, or I die ! 

As the song stopped, Trejago stepped up undei 
the grating and whispered — " I am here." 

Bisesa was good to look upon. 

That night was the beginning of many strange 
things, and of a double life so wild that Trejago 
to-day sometimes wonders if it were not all a 
dream. Bisesa, or her old handmaiden who had 
thrown the object-letter, had detached the heavy 
grating from the brick-work of the wall; so that 
the window slid inside, leaving only a square of 
raw masonry into which an active man might 

In the daytime, Trejago drove through his 
routine of office-work, or put on his calling- 

7o8 Indian Tales, 

clothes and called on the ladies of the Station; 
wondering how long they would know him if 
they knew of poor little Bisesa. At night, when 
all the City was still, came the walk under the 
evil-smelling boorka, the patrol through Jitha 
Megji's bustee, the quick turn into Amir Math's 
Gully between the sleeping cattle and the dead 
walls, and then, last of all, Bisesa, and the deep, 
even breathing of the old woman who slept out- 
side the door of the bare little room that Durga 
Charan allotted to his sister's daughter. Who or 
what Durga Charan v/as, Trejago never inquired; 
and why in the world he was not discovered and 
knifed never occurred to him till his madness was 
over, and Bisesa . . . But this comes later. 

Bisesa was an endless delight to Trejago. She 
was as ignorant as a bird; and her distorted ver- 
sions of the rumors from the outside world that 
had reached her in her room, amused Trejago al- 
most as much as her lisping attempts to pro- 
nounce his name — "Christopher." The first 
syllable was always more than she could manage, 
and she made funny little gestures with her rose- 
leaf hands, as one throwing the name away, and 
then, kneeling before Trejago, asked him, exactly 
as an Englishwoman would do, if he were sure 
he loved her. Trejago swore that he loved her 
more than any one else in the world. Which 
was true. 

Beyond the Pale 709 

After a month of this folly, the exigencies of 
his other life compelled Trejago to be especially 
attentive to a lady of his acquaintance. You 
may take it for a fact that anything of this kind 
is not only noticed and discussed by a man's own 
race but by some hundred and fifty natives as 
well. Trejago had to walk with this lady and 
talk to her at the Band-stand, and once or twice 
to drive with her; never for an instant dreaming 
that this would affect his dearer, out-of-the-way 
life. But the news flew, in the usual mysterious 
fashion, from mouth to mouth, till Bisesa's 
duenna heard of it and told Bisesa. The child 
was so troubled that she did the household work 
evilly, and was beaten by Durga Charan's wife 
in consequence. 

A week later, Bisesa taxed Trejago with the 
flirtation. She understood no gradations and 
spoke openly. Trejago laughed and Bisesa 
stamped her little feet — little feet, light as mari- 
gold flowers, that could lie in the palm of a man's 
one hand. 

Much that is written about Oriental passion 
and impulsiveness is exaggerated and compiled 
at second-hand, but a little of it is true; and 
when an Englishman finds that little, it is quite 
as startling as any passion in his own proper life. 
Bisesa raged and stormed, and finally threatened 
to kill herself if Trejago did not at once drop the 

7IO Indian Tales 

alien Memsahib who had come between them. 
Trejago tried to explain, and to show her that she 
did not understand these things from a Western 
standpoint. Bisesa drew herself up, and said 
simply — 

"I do not. I know only this — it is not good 
that 1 should have made you dearer than my own 
heart to me. Sahib. You are an Englishman. I 
am only a black girl" — she v/as fairer than bar- 
gold in the Mint, — "and the widow of a black 

Then she sobbed and said — "But on my soul 
and my Mother's soul, I love you. There shall 
no harm come to you, whatever happens to me." 

Trejago argued with the child, and tried to 
soothe her, but she seemed quite unreasonably 
disturbed. Nothing would satisfy her save that 
all relations between them should end. He was 
to go away at once. And he went. As he 
dropped out of the window, she kissed his fore- 
head twice, and he walked home wondering. 

A week, and then three weeks, passed without 
a sign from Bisesa. Trejago, thinking that the 
rupture had lasted quite long enough, went 
down to Amir Nath's Gully for the fifth time 
in the three weeks, hoping that his rap at the sill 
of the shifting grating would be answered. He 
was not disappointed. 

There was a young moon, and one stream of 

Beyond the Pale 711 

light fell down into Amir Nath's Gully, and 
struck the grating which was drawn away as he 
knocked. From the black dark, Bisesa held out 
her arms into the moonlight. Both hands had 
been cut off at the wrists, and the stumps were 
nearly healed. 

Then, as Bisesa bowed her head between her 
arms and sobbed, some one in the room grunted 
like a wild beast, and something sharp — knife, 
sword, or spear, — thrust at Trejago in his boorka. 
The stroke missed his body, but cut into one of 
the muscles of the groin, and he limped slightly 
from the wound for the rest of his days. 

The grating went into its plac3. There was 
no sign whatever from inside the house, — noth- 
ing but the moonlight strip on the high wall, and 
the blackness of Amir Nath's Gully behind. 

The next thing Trejago remembers, after rag- 
ing and shouting like a madman between those 
pitiless walls, is that he found himself near the 
river as the dawn was breaking, threw away his 
boorka and went home bareheaded. 

What was the traged}' — whether Bisesa had, 
in a fit of causeless despair, told everything, or 
the intrigue had been discovered and she tortured 
to tell; whether Durga Charan knew his name 
and what became of Bisesa — Trejago does not 

712 Indian Tales 

know to this day. Something horrible had hap- 
pened, and the thought of what it must have 
been, comes upon Trejago in the night now and 
again, and keeps him company till the morning. 
One special feature of the case is that he does 
not know where lies the front of Durga Charan's 
house. It may open on to a courtyard common 
to two or more houses, or it may lie behind any 
one of the gates of Jitha Megji's bustee. Trejago 
cannot tell. He cannot get Bisesa — poor little 
Bisesa — back again. He has lost her in the City 
where each man's house is as guarded and as 
unknowable as the grave; and the grating that 
opens into Amir Nath's Gully has been walled up. 

But Trejago pays his calls regularly, and is 
reckoned a very decent sort of man. 

There is nothing peculiar about him, except a 
slight stiffness, caused by a riding-strain, in the 
right leg. 


Hit a man an' help a woman, an' ye can't be far wrong any> 
ways, — Maxims of Private Mulvaney. 

THE Inexpressibles gave a ball. They bor- 
rowed a seven-pounder from the Gunners, 
and wreathed it with laurels, and made the danc- 
ing-floor plate-glass and provided a supper, the 
like of which had never been eaten before, and 
set two sentries at the door of the room to hold 
the trays of programme-cards. My friend, Pri- 
vate Mulvaney, was one of the sentries, because 
he was the tallest man in the regiment. When 
the dance was fairly started the sentries were re- 
leased, and Private Mulvaney went to curry favor 
with the Mess Sergeant in charge of the supper. 
Whether the Mess Sergeant gave or Mulvaney 
took, I cannot say. All that I am certain of is 
that, at supper-time, I found Mulvaney with Pri- 
vate Ortheris, two-thirds of a ham, a loaf of 
bread, half a pdte-de-foie-gras, and two mag- 
nums of champagne, sitting on the roof of my 
carriage. As I came up I heard him saying — 

" Praise be a danst doesn't come as often as 
Ord'ly-room, or, by this an' that, Orth'ris, me 

714 . Indian Tales 

son, I wud be the dishgrace av the rig'mint in- 
stid av the brightest jool in uts crown." 

''Hand the Colonel's pet noosance," said Or- 
theris. " But wot makes you curse your rations ? 
This 'ere fizzy stuff's good enough." 

"Stuff, ye oncivilized pagin! 'Tis champagne 
we're dhrinkin' now. 'Tisn't that I am set ag'in. 
'Tis this quare stuff wid the little bits av black 
leather in it. I misdoubt I will be distressin'ly 
sick wid it in the mornin'. Fwhat is ut ? " 

"Goose liver," I said, climbing on the top of 
the carriage, for I knew that it was better to sit 
out with Mulvaney than to dance many dances. 

" Goose liver is ut .? " said Mulvaney. " Faith, 
I'm thinkin' thim that makes it wud do betther 
to cut up the Colonel. He carries a power av 
liver undher his right arrum whin the days are 
warm an' the nights chill. He wud give thim 
tons an' tons av liver. 'Tis he sez so. ' I'm all 
liver to-day,' sez he; an' wid that he ordhers me 
ten days C. B. for as moild a dhrink as iver a 
good sodger took betune his teeth." 

" That was when 'e wanted for to wash 'isself 
in the Fort Ditch," Ortheris explained. "Said 
there was too much beer in the Barrack water- 
butts for a God-fearing man. You was lucky in 
gettin' orf with wot you did, Mulvaney." 

"Say you so? Now I'm pershuaded I was 
cruel hard trated, seein' fwhat I've done for the 

The God from the Machine -^15 

likes av him in the days whin my eyes were 
wider opin than they are now. Man alive, for 
the Colonel to whip me on the peg in that way! 
Me that have saved the repitation av a ten times 
better man than him! 'Twas ne-farious — an' 
that manes a power av evil! " 

"Never mind the nefariousness," I said. 
" Whose reputation did you save ?" 

"More's the pity, 'twasn't my own, but I tuk 
more trouble wid ut than av ut was. 'Twas 
just my way, messin' wid fwhat was no business 
av mine. Hear nowl" He settled himself at 
ease on the top of the carriage, " I'll tell you all 
about ut. Av coorse 1 will name no names, for 
there's wan that's an orf'cer's lady now, that was 
in ut, and no more will I name places, for a man 
is thracked by a place." 

"Eyah!" said Ortheris, lazily, "but this is a 
mixed story wot's comin'." 

" Wanst upon a time, as the childer-books say, 
I was a recruity." 

"Was you though?" said Ortheris; "now 
that's extryordinary ! " 

"Orth'ris," said Mulvaney, "av you opin thim 
lips av yours again, I will, savin' your presince, 
sorr, take you by the slack av your trousers an' 
heave you." 

"I'm mum," said Ortheris. "Wot 'appened 
when you was a recruitv ? " 

7i6 Indian Tales 

" I was a betther recruity than you iver was or 
will be, but that's neither here nor there. Thin I 
became a man, an' the divil of a man I was fifteen 
years ago. They called me Buck Mulvaney in 
thim days, an', begad, 1 tuk a woman's eye. I 
did that! Ortheris, ye scrub, fwhat are ye snig- 
gerin' at ? Do you misdoubt me ?" 

"Devil a doubt!" said Ortheris; "but I've 
'card summat like that before! " 

Mulvaney dismissed the impertinence with a 
lofty wave of his hand and continued — 

"An' the orfcers av the rig'mint I was in in 
thim days was orfcers — gran' men, wid a man- 
ner on 'em, an' a way wid 'em such as is not 
made these days — all but wan — wan o' the 
capt'ns. A bad dhrill, a wake voice, an' a limp 
leg — thim three things are the signs av a bad 
man. You bear that in your mind, Orth'ris, me 

"An' the Colonel av the rig'mint had a daugh- 
ter — wan av thim. lamblike, bleatin', pick-me-up- 
an'-carry-me-or-I'll-die gurls such as was made 
for the natural prey av men like the Capt'n, who 
was iverlastin' payin' coort to her, though the 
Colonel he said time an' over, ' Kape out av the 
brute's way, my dear.' But he niver had the 
heart for to send her away from the throuble, 
bein' as he was a widower, an' she their wan 

The God from the Machine 717 

"Stop a minute, Mulvaney," said I; "how in 
the world did you come to know these things ?" 

"How did 1 come?" said Mulvaney, with a 
scornful grunt; " bekaze I'm turned durin' the 
Quane's pleasure to a lump av wood, lookin' out 
straight forninst me, wid a — a — candelabbrum in 
my hand, for you to pick your cards out av, must 
I not see nor feel? Av coorse i du! Up my 
back, an' in my boots, an' in the short hair av the 
neck — that's where I kape my eyes whim I'm on 
duty an' the reg'lar wans are fixed. Know! 
Take my word for it, sorr, ivrything an' a great 
dale more is known in a rig'mint; or fwhat wud 
be the use av a Mess Sargint, or a Sargint's wife 
doin' wet-nurse to the Major's baby ? To re- 
shume. He was a bad dhrill was this Capt'n — a 
rotten bad dhrill — an' whin first 1 ran me eye over 
him, 1 sez to myself: ' My Militia bantam! ' I sez, 
' My cock av a Gosport dunghill ' — 'twas from 
Portsmouth he came to us — ' there's combs to be 
cut,' sez I, 'an' by the grace av God, 'tis Terence 
Mulvaney will cut thim.' 

"So he wint menowderin'. and minanderin', 
an' blandandhering roun' an' about the Colonel's 
daughter, an' she, poor innocint, lookin' at him 
like a Comm'ssariat bullock looks at the Comp'ny 
cook. He'd a dhirty little scrub av a black mous- 
tache, an' he twisted an' turned ivry wurrd he 
used as av he found ut too sweet for to spit out. 

71 8 Indian Tales 

Eyah! He was a tricky man an' a liar by natur'. 
Some are born so. He was wan. I knew he 
was over his belt in money borrowed from na- 
tives; besides a lot av other matthers which, in 
regard for your presince, sorr, I will oblitherate. 
A little av fwhat 1 knew, the Colonel knew, for 
he wud have none av him, an' that, I'm thinkin', 
by fwhat happened aftherward, the Capt'in knew. 
"Wan day, bein' mortial idle, or they wud 
never ha' thried ut, the rig'mint gave amsure 
theatricals — orf'cers an' orf'cers' ladies. You've 
seen the likes time an' again, sorr, an' poor fun 
'tis for them that sit in the back row an' stamp 
wid their boots for the honor av the rig'mint. I 
was told off for to shif the scenes, haulin' up this 
an' draggin' down that. Light work ut was, wid 
lashins av beer and the gurl that dhressed the 
orf'cers' ladies — but she died in Aggra twelve 
years gone, an' my tongue's gettin' the betther av 
me. They was actin' a play thing called Sweet- 
hearts, which you may ha' heard av, an' the 
Colonel's daughter she was a lady's maid. The 
Capt'n was a boy called Broom — Spread Broom 
was his name in the play. Thin I saw — ut come 
out in the actin' — fwhat I niver saw before, an' 
that was that he was no gentleman. They was 
too much together, thim two, a-whishperin' be- 
hind the scenes I shifted, an' some av what they 
said 1 heard; for I was death — blue death an' ivy 

The God from the Machine 719 

— on the comb-cuttin'. He was iverlastin'ly op- 
pressing her to fall in wid some sneakin' schame 
av his, an' she was thryin' to stand out against 
him, but not as though she was set in her will. 
I wonder now in thim days that my ears did not 
grow a yard on me head wid list'nin'. But I 
looked straight forninst me an' hauled up this an' 
dragged down that, such as was my duty, an' 
the orf cers' ladies sez one to another, thinkin' I 
was out av listen-reach: ' Fwhat an obiigin' 
3'oung man is this Corp'ril Mulvaney!' I was a 
Corp'ril then. I was rejuced aftherward, but, no 
matther, 1 was a Corp'ril wanst. 

"Well, this Sweethearts' business wint on like 
most amshure theatricals, an' barrin' fwhat 1 sus- 
picioned, 'twasn't till the dhress-rehearsal that 1 
saw for certain that thim two — he the black- 
guard, an' she no wiser than she should ha' been 
— had put up an evasion." 

"A what?'"' said I. 

"E-vasion! Fwhat you call an elopemint. 
E-vasion I calls it, bekaze, exceptin' whin 'tis 
right an' natural an' proper, 'tis wrong an' dhirty 
to steal a man's wan child she not knowin' her 
own mind. There was a Sargint in the Com- 
m'ssariat who set my face upon e-vasions. I'll 
tell you about that " — 

"Stick to the bloomin' Captains, Mulvaney," 
said Ortheris; " Comm'ssariat Sargints is low." 

720 Indian Tales 

Mulvaney accepted the amendment and went 
on: — 

"Now I knew that the Colonel was no fool, 
any more than me, for 1 was hild the sm.artest 
man in the rig'mint, an' the Colonel was the best 
orfcer commandin' in Asia; so fwhat he said an' 
/ said was a mortial truth. We knew that the 
Capt'n was bad, but, for reasons which I have 
already oblitherated, I knew more than me Colo- 
nel. I wud ha' rolled out his face wid the butt 
av my gun before permittin' av him to steal the 
gurl. Saints knew av he wud ha' married her, 
and av he didn't she wud be in great tormint, an' 
the divil av a 'scandal.' But I niver sthruck, 
niver raised me hand on my shuperior orfcer; an* 
that was a merricle now I come to considher it." 

"Mulvaney, the dawn's risin'," said Ortheris, 
"an' we're no nearer 'ome than we was at the 
beginnin'. Lend me your pouch. Mine's all 

Mulvaney pitched his pouch over, and filled 
his pipe afresh. 

"So the dhress-rehearsal came to an end, an', 
bekaze I was curious, I stayed behind whin the 
scene-shiftin' was ended, an' I shud ha' been in 
barricks, lyin' as flat as a toad under a painted 
cottage thing. They was • talkin' in whispers, 
an' she was shiverin' an' gaspin' like a fresh- 
hukked fish. ' Are you sure you've got the hang 

The God from the Machine 721 

av the manewvers ? ' sez he, or wurrds to that 
effec', as the coort-martial sez. 'Sure as death,' 
sez she, ' but I misdoubt 'tis cruel hard on my 
father.' 'Damn your father,' sez he, or anyways 
'twas fwhat he thought, ' the arrangement is as 
clear as mud. Jungi will drive the carri'ge afther 
all's over, an' you come to the station, cool an' 
aisy, in time for the two o'clock thrain, where 
I'll be wid your kit.' ' Faith,' thinks I to myself, 
'thin there's a ayah in the business tu! ' 

" A powerful bad thing is a ayah. Don't you 
niver have any thruck wid wan. Thin he began 
sootherin' her, an' ail the orf'cers an' orf'cers' 
ladies left, an' they put out the liglits. To ex- 
plain the theory av the flight, as they say at 
Muskthry, you must understand that afther this 
Sweethearts' nonsinse was ended, there was an- 
other little bit av a play called Couples, — some 
kind av couple or another. The gurl was actin' 
in this, but not the man. I suspicioned he'd go 
to the station wid the gurl's kit at the end av the 
first piece. Twas the kit that flusthered me, for 
I knew for a Capt'n to go trapesing about the im- 
pire wid the Lord knew what av a truso on his 
arrum was nefarious, an' wud be worse than 
easin' the flag, so far as the talk aftherward 

"'Old on, Mulvaney. Wot's truso}" said 

722 Indian Tales 

"You're an oncivilized man, me son. Whin 
a gurl's married, all her kit an' 'coutrements are 
truso, which manes weddin'-portion. An' 'tis the 
same whin she's runnin' away, even wid the 
biggest blackguard on the Arrmy List. 

" So I made my plan av campaign. The 
Colonel's house was a good two miles away. 
'Dennis,' sez I to my color-sargint, ' av you 
love me lend me your kyart, for me heart is bruk 
an' me feet is sore wid trampin' to and from this 
foolishness at the Gaff.' An' Dennis lent ut, wid 
a rampin', stampin' red stallion in the shafts. 
Whin they was all settled down to their Sweet- 
hearts for the first scene, which was a long wan, 
I slips outside and into the kyart. Mother av 
Hivin! but I made that horse walk, an' we came 
into the Colonel's compound as the divil wint 
through Athlone — in standin' leps. There was 
no one there excipt the servints, an' 1 wint round 
to the back an' found the girl's ayah. 

" * Ye black brazen Jezebel,' sez I, ' sellin' your 
masther's honor for five rupees — pack up all 
the Miss Sahib's kit an' look slippy! Capt'n 
Sahib's order,' sez I. 'Going to the station we 
are,' I sez, an' wid that I laid my finger to my 
nose an' looked the schamin' sinner I was. 

" ' Bote acchy* says she; so I knew she was in 
the business, an' I piled up all the sweet talk I'd 
iver learned in the bazars on to this she-bullock. 

The God from the Machine 723 

an' prayed av her to put all the quick she knew 
into the thing. While she packed, I stud outside 
an' sweated, for I was wanted for to shif the 
second scene. I tell you, a young gurl's e-vasion 
manes as much baggage as a rig'mint on the 
line av march! 'Saints help Dennis's springs,' 
thinks I, as 1 bundled the stuff into the thrap, 
' for I'll have no mercy! ' 

" ' I'm comin' too,' says the ayah. 

"'No, you don't,' sez 1, 'later — pechy! You 
baito where you are. I'll pechy come an' bring 
you sart, along with me, you maraudin' ' — niver 
mind fwhat I called her. 

"Thin 1 wint for the Gaff, an' by the special 
ordher av Providence, for I was doin' a good 
work you will ondersthand, Dennis's springs hild 
toight. 'Now, whin the Capt'n goes for that 
kit,' thinks I, ' he'll be throubled.' At the end av 
Sweethearts off the Capt'n runs in his kyart to the 
Colonel's house, an' 1 sits down on the steps and 
laughs. Wanst an' again I slipped in to see how 
the little piece was goin', an' whin ut was near 
endin' I stepped out all among the carriages an' 
Sings out very softly, 'Jungi!' Wid that a car- 
r'ge began to move, an' I waved to the dhriver. 
' Hither aol' sez 1, an' he hifheraoed t\\\ I judged 
Me was at proper distance, an' thin I tuk him, fair 
rm' square betune the eyes, all I knew for good 
or bad, an' he dhropped wid a guggle like the 

724 Indian Tales 

canteen beer-engine whin ut's runnin' low. Thin 
I ran to the kyart an' tuk out all the kit an' piled 
it into the carr'ge, the sweat runnin' down my 
face in dhrops. 'Go home,' sez I, to the sais ; 
'you'll find a man close here. Very sick he is. 
Take him away, an' av you iver say wan wurrd 
about fwhat you've dekkoed, I'll marrow you till 
your own wife won't sumjao who you are!' 
Thin I heard the stampin' av feet at the ind av 
the play, an' I ran in to let down the curtain. 
Whin they all came out the gurl thried to hide 
herself behind wan av the pillars, an' sez ' Jungi ' in 
a voice that wouldn't ha' scared a hare. I run over 
to Jungi's carr'ge an' tuk up the lousy old horse- 
blanket on the box, wrapped my head an' the 
rest av me in ut, an' dhrove up to where she was. 

" 'Miss Sahib,' sez I ; 'going to the station.? 
Captain Sahib's order!' an' widout a sign she 
jumped in all among her own kit. 

" I laid to an' dhruv like steam to the Colonel's 
house before the Colonel was there, an' she 
screamed an' I thought she was goin' off. Out 
comes the ayah, saying all sorts av things about 
the Capt'n havin' come for the kit an' gone to the 

" 'Take out the luggage, you divil,' sez I, 'or 
I'll murther you!' 

"The lights av the thraps people comin' from 
the Gaff was showin' across the parade ground. 

The God from the Machine 725 

an', by this an' that, the way thim two women 
worked at the bundles an" thrunks was a caution! 
I was dyin' to help, but, seein' I didn't want to 
be known, I sat wid the blanket roun' me an* 
coughed an' thanked the Saints there was no 
moon that night. 

"Whin all was in the house again, I niver 
asked for bukshish but dhruv tremenjus in the 
opp'site way from the other carr'ge an' put out 
my lights. Presintly, I saw a naygur-man wal- 
lowin' in the road. 1 slipped down before I got 
to him, for I suspicioned Providence was wid me 
all through that night. 'Twas Jungi, his nose 
smashed in flat, all dumb sick as you please. 
Dennis's man must have tilted him out av the 
thrap. Whin he came to, 'Hutt!' sez I, but he 
began to howl. 

" ' You black lump av dirt,' I sez, 'is this the 
way you dhrive your gharri? That tikka has 
been owin' an' fere-owin' all over the bloomin' 
country this whole bloomin' night, an' you as 
miit-'walla as Davey's sow. Get up, you hog!' 
sez I, louder, for I heard the wheels av a thrap in 
the dark; 'get up an* light your lamps, or you'll 
be run into! ' This was on the road to the Rail- 
way Station. 

"'Fwhat the divil's this?' sez the Capt'n's 
voice in the dhark, an' 1 could judge he was in a 
lather av rage. 

726 Indian Tales 

"'Gharri dhriver here, dhrunk, sorr,' sez I; 
'I've found his gharri sthrayin' about canton- 
tnints, an' now I've found hiin.' 

"'Oh!' sez the Capt'n; 'fwhat's his name?' 
I stooped down an' pretended to listen. 

" ' He sez his name's Jungi, sorr,' sez I. 

"'Hould my harse,' sez the Capt'n to his 
man, an' wid that he gets down wid the whip 
an' lays into Jungi, just mad wid rage an' 
swearin' like the scutt he was. 

" I thought, afther a while, he wud kill the 
man, so I sez: — 'Stop, sorr, or you'll murdher 
him!' That dhrew all his fire on me, an' he 
cursed me into Blazes, an' out again. I stud to 
attenshin an' saluted: — 'Sorr,' sez I, 'av ivry man 
in this wurruld had his rights, I'm thinkin' that 
more than wan wud be beaten to a jelly for this 
night's work — that niver came off at all, sorr, as 
you see?' 'Now,' thinks I to myself, 'Terence 
Mulvaney, you've cut your own throat, for he'll 
sthrike, an' you'll knock him down for the good 
av his sowl an' your own iverlastin' dishgrace!' 

"But the Capt'n never said a single wurrd. 
He choked where he stud, an' thin he went into 
his thrap widout sayin' good-night, an' I wint 
back to barricks." 

"And then ?" said Ortheris and 1 together. 

"That was all," said Mulvaney, "niver an- 
other word did I hear av the whole thing. All I 

The God from the Machine 727 

know was that there was no e-vasion, an' that 
was fwhat I wanted. Now, I put ut to you, 
sorr, h ten days' C.B. a fit an' a proper trate- 
ment for a man who has behaved as me ?" 

"Well, any'ow," said Ortheris, " tweren't this 
'ere Colonel's daughter, an' you -was blazin' copped 
when you tried to wash in the Fort Ditch." 

"That," said Mulvaney, finishing the cham- 
pagne, " is a shuparfluous an' impert'nint obser- 


Jain 'Ardin' was a Sarjint's wife, 

A Sarjint's wife wus she. 
She married of 'im in Orldersliort 

An' corned across the sea. 
(^Chorus) 'Ave you never 'card tell o' Jain 'Ardin'? 

Jain 'Ardin' r 
Jain 'Ardin' ? 
'Ave you never 'eard tell o' Jain 'Ardin' ? 
The pride o' the Compan^if ? 

Old Barrack Room Ballad. 

i' A GENTLEMAN who doesn't know the 
t\ Circasian Circle ought not to stand up 
for it — puttin' everybody out." That was what 
Miss McKenna said, and the Sergeant who was 
my vis-a-vis looked the same thing. I was afraid 
of Miss McKenna. She was six feet high, all yel- 
low freckles and red hair, and was simply clad in 
white satin shoes, a pink muslin dress, an apple- 
green stuff sash, and black silk gloves, with yel- 
low roses in her hair. Wherefore I fled from 
Miss McKenna and sought my friend Private 
Mulvaney, who was at the cant — refreshment- 

" So you've been dancin' with little Jhansi Mc- 

The Daughter of the Regiment 729 

Kenna, sorr — she that's goin' to marry Corp'ril 
Slane ? Whin you next conversh wid your lor- 
ruds an' your ladies, tell thim you've danced wid 
little Jhansi, 'Tis a thing to be proud av," 

But I wasn't proud. 1 was humble. I saw a 
story in Private Mulvaney's eye; and besides, if 
he stayed too long at the bar, he would, 1 knew, 
qualify for more pack-drill. Now to meet an es- 
teemed friend doing pack-drill outside the guard- 
room is embarrassing, especially if you happen 
to be walking with his Commanding Officer. 

"Come on to the parade-ground, Mulvaney, 
it's cooler there, and tell me about Miss McKenna. 
What is she, and who is she, and why is she 
called 'Jhansi '?" 

" D'ye mane to say you've niver heard av Ould 
Pummeloe's daughter? An' you thinkin' you 
know things! I'm wid ye in a minut whin me 
poipe's lit." 

We came out under the stars. Mulvaney sat 
down on one of the artillery bridges, and began 
in the usual way: his pipe between his teeth, his 
big hands clasped and dropped between his 
knees, and his cap well on the back of his head — 

" Whin Mrs. Mulvaney, that is, was Miss Shadd 
that was, you were a dale younger than you are 
now, an' the Army was dif'rint in sev'ril e-sen- 
shuls. Bhoys have no call for to marry nowa- 
days, an' that's why the Army has so few rale. 

730 Indian Tales 

good, honust, swearin', strapagin', tinder-hearted, 
heavy-futted wives as ut used to have whin I was 
a Corp'ril. I was rejuced aftherward — but no 
matther — I was a Corp'ril wanst. In thim times, 
a man lived an' died wid his regiment; an' by 
natur', he married whin he was a man. Whin I 
was Corp'ril — Mother av Hivin, how the rigimint 
has died an' been borrun since that day! — my 
Color-Sar'jint was Ould McKenna, an' a married 
man tu. An' his woife — his first woife, for he 
married three times did McKenna — was Bridget 
McKenna, from Portarlington, like mesilf. I've 
misremembered fwhat her first name was; but 
in B Comp'ny we called her 'Ould Pummeloe,' 
by reason av her figure, which was entirely cir- 
cum-fe-renshill. Like the big dhrum ! Now that 
woman — God rock her sowl to rest in glory! — 
was for everlastin' havin' childher; an' McKenna, 
whin the fifth or sixth come squallin' on to the 
musther-roll, swore he wud number thim off in 
future. But Ould Pummeloe she prayed av him 
to christen them after the names av the stations 
they was borrun in. So there was Colaba Mc- 
Kenna, an' Muttra McKenna, an' a whole Presi- 
dincy av other McKennas, an' little Jhansi, 
dancin' over yonder. Whin the childher wasn't 
bornin', they was dying; for, av our childher die 
like sheep in these days, they died like flies 
thin. I lost me own little Shadd — but no mat- 

The Daughter of the Regiment 731 

then Tis long ago, and Mrs. Mulvaney niver 
had another. 

"I'm digresshin. Wan divil's hot summer, 
there come an order from some mad ijjit, whose 
name I misremember, for the rigimint to go up- 
country. Maybe they wanted to know how the 
new rail carried throops. They knew! On me 
sowl, they knew before they was done! Old 
Pumm.eloe had just buried Muttra McKenna; an', 
the season bein' onwholesim, only little Jhansi 
McKenna, who was four year ould thin, was left 
on hand. 

" Five children gone in fourteen months. 
Twas harrd, wasn't ut ? 

" So we wint up to our new station in that 
blazin' heat — may the curse av Saint Lawrence 
conshume the man who gave the ordher! Will I 
iver forget that move } They gave us two wake 
thrains to the rigimint; an' we was eight hun- 
dher' and sivinty strong. There was A, B, C, an' 
D Companies in the secon' thrain, wid twelve 
women, no orficers' ladies, an' thirteen childher. 
We was to go six hundher' miles, an' railways 
was new in thim days. Whin we had been a 
night in the belly av the thrain — the men ragin' 
in their shirts an' dhrinkin' anything they cud 
find, an' eatin' bad fruit-stuff whin they cud, for 
we cudn't stop 'em — I was a Corp'ril thin — the 
cholera bruk out wid the dawnin' av the day. 

732 Indian Tales 

" Pray to the Saints, you may niver see cholera 
in a throop-thrain! 'Tis like the judgmint av 
God hittin' down from the nakid sky! We run 
into a rest-camp — as ut might have been Lu- 
dianny, but not by any means so comfortable. 
The Orficer Commandin' sent a telegrapt up the 
line, three hundher' mile up, askin' for help. 
Faith, we wanted ut, for ivry sowl av the fol- 
lowers ran for the dear life as soon as the thrain 
stopped; an' by the time that telegrapt was writ, 
there wasn't a naygur in the station exceptin' the 
telegrapt-clerk — an' he only bekaze he was held 
down to his chair by the scruff av his sneakin' 
black neck. Thin the day began wid the noise 
in the carr'ges, an' the rattle av the men on the 
platform fallin' over, arms an' all, as they stud 
for to answer the Comp'ny muster-roll before 
goin' over to the camp. 'Tisn't for me to say 
what like the cholera was like. May be the Doc- 
tor cud ha' tould, av he hadn't dropped on to the 
platform from the door av a carriage where we 
was takin' out the dead. He died wid the rest. 
Some bhoys had died in the night. We tuk out 
siven, and twenty more was sickenin' as we tuk 
thim. The women was huddled up anyways, 
screamin' wid fear. 

" Sez the Commandin' Orficer whose name I 
misremember, ' Take the women over to that 

The Daughter of the Regiment 733 

tope av trees yonder. Get thim out av the camp. 
'Tis no place for thim.' 

"Ould Pummeloe was sittin' on her beddin'- 
rowl, thryin' to kape httle Jhansi quiet. ' Go off 
to that tope!' sez the Orficer. 'Go out av the 
men's way! ' 

"'Be damned av I do!' sez Ould Pummeloe, 
an' little Jhansi, squattin' by her mother's side, 
squeaks out, 'Be damned av I do,' tu. Thin 
Ould Pummeloe turns to the women an' she sez, 
' Are ye goin' to let the bhoys die while you're 
picnickin', ye sluts ? ' sez she. ' 'Tis wather they 
want. Come on an' help.' 

" Wid that, she turns up her sleeves an' steps 
out for a well behind the rest-camp — little Jhansi 
trottin' behind wid a lotah an' string, an' the 
other women followin' like lambs, wid horse- 
buckets and cookin' pots. Whin all the things 
was full, Ould Pummeloe marches back into 
camp — 'twas like a battlefield wid all the glory 
missin' — at the hid av the rigimint av women. 

" ' McKenna, me man!' she sez, wid a voice 
on her like grand-roun's challenge, ' tell the bhoys 
to be quiet. Ould Pummeloe's comin' to look 
afther thim — wid free dhrinks,' 

"Thin we cheered, an' the cheerin' in the lines 
was louder than the noise av the poor divils wid 
the sickness on thim. But not much. 

"You see, we was a new an' raw rigimint in 

734 Indian Tales 

those days, an' we cud make neither head nor 
tail av the sickness; an' so we was useless. The 
men was goin' roun' an' about like dumb sheep, 
waitin' for the nex' man to fall over, an' sayin' 
undher their spache, ' Fwhat is ut ? In the name 
av God, fwhat is ut?' 'Twas horrible. But 
through ut all, up an' down, an' down an' up, 
wint Ould Pummeloe an' little Jhansi — all we cud 
see av the baby, undher a dead man's helmut wid 
the chin-strap swingin' about her little stummick 
— up an' down wid the wather an' fwhat brandy 
there was. 

"Now an' thin Ould Pummeloe, the tears run- 
nin' down her fat, red face, sez, ' Me bhoys, me 
poor, dead, darlin' bhoys!' But, for the most, 
she was thryin' to put heart into the men an' kape 
thim stiddy; and little Jhansi was tellin' thim all 
they wud be 'betther in the mornin'.' 'Twas a 
thrick she'd picked up from hearin' Ould Pum- 
meloe whin Muttra was burnin' out wid fever. 
In the mornin'! 'Twas the iverlastin' mornin' at 
St. Pether's Gate was the mornin' for seven-an'- 
twenty good men; and twenty more was sick to 
the death in that bitter, burnin' sun. But the 
women worked like angils as I've said, an' the 
men like divils, till two doctors come down from 
above, and we was rescued. 

" But, just before that, Ould Pummeloe, on her 
knees over a bhoy in my squad — right-cot man to 

The Daught er of the Regment 735 

me he was in the barrick— tellin' him the worrud 
av the Church that niver failed a man yet, sez, 
'Hould me up, bhoys! I'm feelin' bloody sick!' 
Twas the sun, not the cholera, did ut. She mis- 
remembered she was only wearin' her ould black 
bonnet, an' she died wid ' McKenna, me man,' 
houldin' her up, an' the bhoys howled whin they 
buried her. 

"That night, a big wind blew, an' blew, an' 
blew, an' blew the tents flat. But it blew the 
cholera away an' niver another case there was all 
the while we was waitin' — ten days in quarintin'. 
Av you will belave me, the thrack av the sickness 
in the camp was for all the wurruld the thrack av 
a man walkin' four times in a figur-av-eight 
through the tents. They say 'tis the Wandherin' 
Jew takes the cholera wid him. I believe ut. 

"An' that," said Mulvaney, illogically, "is the 
cause why little Jhansi McKenna is f what she is. 
She was brought up by the Quartermaster 
Sergeant's wife whin McKenna died, but she 
b'longs to B Comp'ny; and this tale I'm tellin' 
you — ziid a proper appreciashin av Jhansi Mc- 
Kenna — I've belted into ivry recruity av the Com- 
p'ny as he was drafted. 'Faith, 'twas me belted 
Corp'ril Slane into askin' the girl!" 

"Not really?" 

"Man, I did! She's no beauty to look at, but 
she's Ould Pummeloe's daughter, an' 'tis my juty 

736 Indian Tales 

to provide for her. Just before Slane got his 
promotion I sez to him, 'Slane,' sez I, 'to-mor- 
row 'twill be insubordinashin av me to chastise 
you; but. by the sowl av Ould Pummeloe, who 
is now in glory, av you don't give me your 
wurrud to ask Jhansi McKenna at wanst, I'll 
peel the flesh off yer bones wid a brass huk to- 
night. 'Tis a dishgrace to B Comp'ny she's been 
single so long! ' sez I. Was I goin' to let a three- 
year-ould preshume to discoorse wid me — my 
will bein' set? No! Slane wint an' asked her. 
He's a good bhoy is Slane. Wan av these days 
he'll get into the Com'ssariat an' dhrive a buggy 
wid his — savin's. So I provided for Ould Pum- 
meloe's daughter; an' now you go along an' 
dance agin wid her." 

And I did. 

I felt a respect for Miss Jhansi McKenna; and 
I went to her wedding later on. 

Perhaps I will tell you about that one of these 


Oh ! Where would I be when my froat was dry ? 

Oh ! Where would I be when the bullets fly ? 

Oh ! Where would I be when I come to die ? 

Somewheres anigh my chum. 

If 'e's liquor 'e'll give me some. 
If I'm dyin' 'e'll 'old my 'ead, 
An' 'e'll write 'em 'Ome when I'm dead- 
Gawd send us a trusty chum ! 

Barrack Room Ballad. 

MY friends Mulvaney and Ortheris had gone 
on a shooting-expedition for one day. 
Learoyd was still in hospital, recovering from 
fever picked up in Burma. They sent me an in- 
vitation to join them, and were genuinely pained 
when I brought beer — almost enough beer to 
satisfy two Privates of the Line . . . and 

"Twasn't for that we bid you welkim, sorr," 
said Mulvaney, sulkily. "Twas for the pleasure 
av your comp'ny." 

Ortheris came to the rescue with — "Well, 'e 
won't be none the worse for bringin' liquor with 
'im. We ain't a file o' Dooks. We're bloomin' 

738 Indian Tales 

Tommies, ye cantankris Hirishman; an' 'eres your 
very good 'ealth! " 

We shot all the forenoon, and killed two 
pariah-dogs, four green parrots, sitting, one kite 
by the burning-ghaut, one snake flying, one mud- 
turtle, and eight crows. Game was plentiful. 
Then we sat down to tiffin — " bull-mate an' bran- 
bread," Mulvaney called it — by the side of the 
river, and took pot shots at the crocodiles in the 
intervals of cutting up the food with our only 
pocket-knife. Then we drank up all the beer, 
and threw the bottles into the water and fired at 
them. After that, we eased belts and stretched 
ourselves on the warm sand and smoked. We 
were too lazy to continue shooting. 

Ortheris heaved a big sigh, as he lay on his 
stomach with his head between his fists. Then 
he swore quietly into the blue sky. 

"Fwhat's that for .^" said Mulvaney. "Have 
ye not drunk enough ?" 

" Tott'nim Court Road, an' a gal I fancied there. 
Wofs the good of sodgerin' ?" 

"Orth'ris, me son," said Mulvaney, hastily, 
" 'tis more than likely you've got throuble in your 
inside wid the beer. I feel that way mesilf whin 
my liver gets rusty." 

Ortheris went on slowly, not heeding the in- 
terruption — 

" I'm a Tommy — a bloomin', eight-anna, dog- 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 739 

stealin' Tommy, with a number instead of a de- 
cent name. Wot's the good o' me ? If I 'ad a 
stayed at 'Ome, I might a married that gal and a 
kep' a little shorp in the 'Ammersmith 'Igh. — 'S. 
Orth'ris, Prac-ti-cal Taxi-der-mist.' With a stuff' 
fox, like they 'as in the Haylesbury Dairies, in the 
winder, an' a little case of blue and yaller glass- 
heyes, an' a little wife to call 'shorp I' 'shorp!' 
when the door-bell rung. As it his, I'm on'y 
a Tommy — a Bloomin', Gawd-forsaken, Beer- 
swillin' Tommy. ' Rest on your harms — 'versed, 
Stan' at — hease ; 'Shun. 'Verse — harms. Right 
an'lef — tarrn. Slow — march. 'A\i— front. Rest 
on your harms — 'versed. With blank-cartridge — 
load.' An' that's the end o' me." He was quot- 
ing fragments from Funeral Parties' Orders. 

"Stop ut!" shouted Mulvaney. "Whin you've 
fired into nothin' as often as me, over a better 
man than yoursilf, you will not make a mock av 
thim orders. 'Tis worse than whistlin' the Dead 
March in barricks. An' you full as a tick, an' 
the sun cool, an' all an' all! I take shame for 
you. You're no better than a Pagin — you an' 
your firin'-parties an' your glass-eyes. Won't 
you stop ut, sorr?" 

What could I do ? Could I tell Ortheris any- 
thing that he did not know of the pleasures of 
his life ? I was not a Chaplain nor a Subaltern, 
and Ortheris had a right to speak as he thought fit. 

740 Indian Tales 

"Let him run, Mulvaney," I said. "It's the 

"No! Tisn't the beer," said Mulvaney. "I 
know fwhafs comin'. He's tuk this way now 
an' agin, an' it's bad — it's bad — for I'm fond av 
the bhoy." 

Indeed, Mulvaney seemed needlessly anxious; 
but I knew that he looked after Ortheris in a 
fatherly way. 

" Let me talk, let me talk," said Ortheris, 
dreamily. "D'you stop your parrit screamin' of 
a 'ot day, when the cage is a-cookin' 'is pore little 
pink toes orf, Mulvaney?" 

"Pink toes! D'ye mane to say you've pink 
toes undher youi bullswools, ye blandanderin'," 
— Mulvaney gathered himself together for a ter- 
rific denunciation — * ' school-misthress ! Pink toes ! 
How much Bass wid the label did that ravin' child 

"'Tain't Bass," said Ortheris. "It's a bitterer 
beer nor that. It's 'omesickness! " 

"Hark to him! An' he goin' Home in the 
Sherapis in the inside av four months! " 

"I don't care. It's all one to me. 'Ow d'you 
know I ain't 'fraid o' dyin' 'fore I gets my dis- 
charge paipers?" He recommenced, in a sing- 
song voice, the Orders. 

I had never seen this side of Ortheris' character 
before, but evidently Mulvaney had, and attached 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 741 

serious importance to it. While Ortheris bab- 
bled, with his head on his arms, Mulvaney whis- 
pered to me — 

"He's always tuk this way whin he's been 
checked overmuch by the childher they make 
Sarjints nowadays. That an' havin' nothin' to 
do. I can't make ut out anyways." 

'"Well, what does it matter? Let him talk 
himself through." 

Ortheris began singing a parody of "The Ram- 
rod Corps," full of cheerful allusions to battle, 
murder, and sudden death. He looked out across 
the river as he sang; and his face was quite 
strange to me. Mulvaney caught me by the 
elbow to ensure attention. 

"Matther? It matthers everything! 'Tis some 
sort av fit that's on him. I've seen ut. 'Twill 
hould him all this night, an' in the middle av it 
he'll get out av his cot an' go rakin' in the rack 
for his 'coutremints. Thin he'll come over to me 
an' say, ' I'm goin' to Bombay. Answer for me 
in the mornin'.' Thin me an' him will fight as 
we've done before — him to go an' me to hould 
him — an' so we'll both come on the books for 
disturbin' in barricks. I've belted him, an' I've 
bruk his head, an' I've talked to him, but 'tis no 
manner av use whin the fit's on him. He's as 
good a bhoy as ever stepped whin his mind's 
clear. I know fwhat's comin', though, this night 

742 Indian Tales 

in barricks. Lord send he doesn't loose on me 
whin I rise to knock him down. 'Tis that that's 
in my mind day an' night." 

This put the case in a much less pleasant light, 
and fully accounted for Mulvaney's anxiety. He 
seemed to be trying to coax Ortheris out of the 
fit; for he shouted down the bank where the boy 
was lying — 

"Listen now, you wid the 'pore pink toes' 
an' the glass eyes ! Did you shwim the Irriwaddy 
at night, behin' me, as a bhoy shud; or were you 
hidin' under a bed, as you was at Ahmid Kheyl }" 

This was at once a gross insult and a direct lie, 
and Mulvaney meant it to bring on a fight. But 
Ortheris seemed shut up in some sort of trance. 
He answered slowly, without a sign of irritation, 
in the same cadenced voice as he had used for 
his firing-party orders — 

''Hi swum the Irriwaddy in the night, as you 
know, for to take the town of Lungtungpen, 
nakid an' without fear. Hand where I was at 
Ahmed Kheyl you know, and four bloomin' 
Pathans know too. But that was summat to do, 
an' I didn't think o' dyin'. Now I'm sick to go 
'Ome — go 'Ome — go 'Ome! No, I ain't mammy- 
sick, because my uncle brung me up, but I'm 
sick for London again; sick for the sounds of 'er, 
an' the sights of 'er, and the stinks of 'er; orange 
peel and hasphalte an' gas comin' in over Vaux'all 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 743 

Bridge. Sick for the rail goin' down to Box'Ill, 
with your gal on your knee an' a new clay pipe 
in your face. That, an' the Stran' lights where 
you knows ev'ry one, an' the Copper that takes 
you up is a old friend that tuk you up before, 
when you was a little, smitchy boy lying loose 
'tween the Temple an' the Dark Marches. No 
bloomin' guard-mountin', no bloomin' rotten- 
stone, nor khaki, an' yourself your own master 
with a gal to take an' see the Humaners practicin' 
a-hookin' dead corpses out of the Serpentine o' 
Sundays. An' I lef all that for to serve the 
Widder beyond the seas, where there ain't no 
women and there ain't no liquor worth 'avin', 
and there ain't nothin' to see, nor do, nor say, 
nor feel, nor think. Lord love you, Stanley 
Orth'ris, but you're a bigger bloomin' fool than 
the rest 0' the reg'ment and Mulvaney wired to- 
gether! There's the Widder sittin' at 'Ome 
with a gold crownd on 'er 'ead; and 'ere am Hi, 
Stanley Orth'ris, the Widder's property, a rottin' 

His voice rose at the end of the sentence, and 
he wound up with a six-shot Anglo- Vernacular 
oath. Mulvaney said nothing, but looked at me 
as if he expected that I could bring peace to poor 
Ortheris' troubled brain. 

I remembered once at Rawal Pindi having seen 
a man, nearly mad with drink, sobered by being 

744 Indian Tales 

made a fool of. Some regiments may know 
what I mean. I hoped that we might slake off 
Ortheris in the same way, though he was per- 
fectly sober. So 1 said — 

" What's the use of grousing there, and speak- 
ing against The Widow }" 

"1 didn't!" said Ortheris. "S'elp me, Gawd, 
I never said a word agin 'er, an' 1 wouldn't — not 
if I was to desert this minute! ' 

Here was my opening. " Well, you meant to, 
anyhow. What's the use of cracking-on for 
nothing } Would you slip it now if you got the 
chance ?" 

"On'y try me!" said Ortheris, jumping to his 
feet as if he had been stung. 

Mulvaney jumped too. " Fwhat are you going 
to do ? " said he. 

"Help Ortheris down to Bombay or Karachi, 
whichever he likes. You can report that he sep- 
arated from you before tiffin, and left his gun on 
the bank here! " 

"I'm to report that — am I?" said Mulvaney, 
slowly. "Very well. If Orth'ris manes to de- 
sert now, and will desert now, an' you, sorr, 
who have been a frind to me an' to him, will 
help him to ut, I, Terence Mulvaney, on my oath 
which I've never bruk yet, will report as you say. 
But" — here he stepped up to Ortheris, and shook 
the stock of the fowling-piece in his face — 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 745 

"your fists help you, Stanley Orth'ris, if ever I 
come across you agin! " 

"1 don't care!" said Ortheris. "I'm sick o' 
this dorg's life. Give me a chanst. Don't play 
with me. Le' me go! " 

"Strip," said I, "and change with me, and 
then I'll tell you what to do." 

I hoped that the absurdity of this would check 
Ortheris; but he had kicked off his ammunition- 
boots and got rid of his tunic almost before I had 
loosed my shirt-collar. Mulvaney gripped me by 
the arm — 

"The fit's on him: the fit's workin' on him 
still! By my Honor and Sow!, we shall be ac- 
cessiry to a desartion yet. Only, twenty-eight 
days, as you say, sorr, or fifty-six, but think o' 
the shame — the black shame to him an' me!" I 
had never seen Mulvaney so excited. 

But Ortheris was quite calm, and, as soon as 
he had exchanged clothes with me, and I stood 
up a Private of the Line, he said shortly, " Now! 
Come on. What nex' ? D'ye mean fair. What 
must I do to get out o' this 'ere a-Hell }" 

I told him that, if he would wait for two or 
three hours near the river, I would ride into the 
Station and come back with one hundred rupees. 
He would, with that money in his pocket, walk 
to the nearest side-station on the line, about five 
miles away, and would there take a first-class 

74^ Indian Tales 

ticket for Karachi. Knowing that he had no 
money on him when he went out shooting, his 
regiment would not immediately wire to the sea- 
ports, but would hunt for him in the native vil- 
lages near the river. Further, no one would 
think of seeking a deserter in a first-class car- 
riage. At Karachi, he was to buy white clothes 
and ship, if he could, on a cargo-steamer. 

Here he broke in. If 1 helped him to Karachi, 
he would arrange all the rest. Then I ordered 
him to wait where he was until it was dark 
enough for me to ride into the station without 
my dress being noticed. Now God in His wis- 
dom has made the heart of the British Soldier, 
who is very often an unlicked ruffian, as soft as 
the heart of a little child, in order that he may 
believe in and follow his officers into tight and 
nasty places. He does not so readily come to 
believe in a " civilian," but, when he does, he be- 
lieves implicitly and like a dog. I had had the 
honor of the friendship of Private Ortheris, at in- 
tervals, for more than three years, and we had 
dealt with each other as man by man. Conse- 
quently, he considered that all my words were 
true, and not spoken lightly. 

Mulvaney and I left him in the high grass near 
the river-bank, and went away, still keeping to 
the high grass, toward my horse. The shirt 
scratched me horribly. 

The Madness of Private Ortheris 747 

We waited nearly two hours for the dusk to 
fall and allow me to ride off. We spoke of 
Ortheris in whispers, and strained our ears to 
catch any sound from the spot where we had left 
him. But we heard nothing except the wind in 
the plume-grass. 

"I've bruk his head," said Mulvaney, earnestly, 
"time an' agin. I've nearly kilt him wid the 
belt, sn' yet 1 can't knock thim fits out av his soft 
head. No! An' he's not soft, for he's reason- 
able an' likely by natur'. Fwhat is ut ? is ut his 
breedin' which is nothin', or his edukashin which 
he niver got ? You that think ye know things, 
answer me that." 

But 1 found no answer. I was wondering how 
long Ortheris, in the bank of the river, would 
hold out, and whether I should be forced to help 
him to desert, as 1 had given my word. 

Just as the dusk shut down and, with a very 
heavy heart, I was beginning to saddle up my 
horse, we heard wild shouts from the river. 

The devils had departed from Private Stanley 
Ortheris, No. 226}c), B Company. The loneli- 
ness, the dusk, and the waiting had driven them 
out as I had hoped. We set off at the double 
and found him plunging about wildly through 
the grass, with his coat off — my coat off, I mean. 
He was calling for us like a madman. 

When we reached him he was dripping with 

748 Indian Tales 

perspiration, and trembling like a startled horse. 
We had great difficulty in soothing him. He 
complained that he was in civilian kit, and 
wanted to tear my clothes off his body. I or- 
dered him to strip, and we made a second ex- 
change as quickly as possible. 

The rasp of his own "greyback" shirt and the 
squeak of his boots seemed to bring him to him- 
self. He put his hands before his eyes and 
said — 

"Wot was \\.} I ain't mad, I ain't sunstrook, 
an' I've bin an' gone an' said, an' bin an' gone an' 
done. . . . ^0/ 'ave 1 bin an' done!" 

"Fwhat have you done?" said Mulvaney. 
"You've dishgraced yourself — though that's no 
matter. You've dishgraced B Comp'ny, an' 
worst av all, you've dishgraced Me! Me that 
taught you how for to walk abroad like a man — 
whin you was a dhirty little, fish-backed little, 
whimperin' little recruity. As you are now, 
Stanley Orth'ris!" 

Ortheris said nothing for a while. Then he 
unslung his belt, heavy with the badges of half a 
dozen regiments that his own had lain with, and 
handed it over to Mulvaney. 

" I'm too little for to mill you, Mulvaney," said 
he, "an' you've strook me before; but you can 
take an' cut me in two with this 'ere if you like." 

Mulvaney turned to me. 

The Madness of Private Ortheris -j^i^ 

"Lave me to talk to him, sorr," said Mul- 

I left, and on my way home thought a good 
deal over Ortheris in particular, and my friend 
Private Thomas Atkins whom 1 love, in general. 

But I could not come to any conclusion of any 
kind whatever. 


And they were stronger hands than mine 
That digged the Ruby from the earth — 
More cunning brains that made it worth 
The large desire of a King; 
And bolder hearts that through the brine 
Went down the Perfect Pearl to bring. 

Lo, I have wrought in common clay 

Rude figures of a rough-hewn race; 

For Pearls strew not the market-place 

In this my town of banishment, 

Where with the shifting dust I play 

And eat the bread of Discontent. 

Yet is there life in that 1 make, — 

Oh, Thou who knowest, turn and see. 
As Thou hast power over me, 
So have I power over these. 
Because I wrought them for Thy sake, 
And breathe in them mine agonies. 

Small mirth was in the making. Now 
I lift the cloth that cloaks the clay. 
And, wearied, at Thy feet I lay 
My wares ere I go forth to sell. 
The long ba^ar will praise — but Thou — 
Heart of my heart, have I done well? 


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JAN 1 1 1983 

MA? 2 1968 




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PR4854 .139 1899 

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